Garden Gulch spill settlements to total $316,350

Two companies agreed to pay $316,350 to settle enforcement actions associated with major spills of fluids from pits north of Parachute during the winter of 2007–08.

Berry Petroleum consented to pay a $100,000 fine and $73,000 toward a to-be-determined Colorado public project in connection with the release of more than 100,000 gallons of fluids above Garden Gulch, a tributary of Parachute Creek.

Marathon Oil recently agreed to pay a fine of $143,350 for spilling about 1.3 million gallons of what was mostly fresh water in the same area.

The settlements are scheduled to be considered by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Monday.

The two spills prompted concern about their potential for impacts on Parachute Creek, including on ranching operations and fish.

In a settlement document, state officials say tests found no significant impact to either Garden Gulch or Parachute Creek from Marathon’s spill. Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene levels were not detected above state standards for drinking water.

Acetone was found in a spring near the Berry spill. The spring is used by wildlife and livestock, the state says. Benzene slightly exceeding drinking-water standards was found in a sump Berry constructed by the pit to capture and dispose of leaking fluids.

State regulators say Berry failed to report and contain the spill immediately and clean it up as soon as possible.


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