Williams: No well pad, spring link

Officials with Williams Production RMT say there is no data to suggest a link between oil and gas contaminants that leaked into soil on a Williams well pad and tainted spring water that made a man sick in 2008.

“There’s no indication that the two are tied together,” Blake Roush, manager of Williams’ Highlands Asset Team, told the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board last week.

Ned Prather became ill after drinking water at his cabin northwest of Parachute on May 30, 2008. It later was found to contain benzene, a carcinogen that is a naturally occurring byproduct of oil and gas production.

Even before the newly reported leak, state oil and gas regulators had been focusing on the Williams pad, about 1,600 feet from the spring, as a possible source of the water contamination. However, Chris Canfield, an environmental protection specialist for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said it isn’t yet known whether the pad contamination is linked to the tainted water.

Williams continues to believe none of its operations is to blame for the polluted spring water, company spokeswoman Susan Alvillar said. The state and Williams are continuing to investigate the matter.

Roush said data is being analyzed in connection with the pad contamination, but added, “It poses no health or environmental problem to any of the surrounding area.”

Williams notified the state of the contamination in December after discovering it while closing a pit. Williams reported the discovery on a state spill/release report. Alvillar said the incident involves a release rather than a spill. Oil and gas commission rules define a spill as a sudden discharge of unauthorized waste into the environment, and a release as a discharge occurring over time.

The incident was “not a new spill,” Roush said. Williams found it while boring into the soil beneath the reclaimed pit.

Williams so far has described the release only as involving hydrocarbons, which Alvillar said means substances associated with natural gas production. She didn’t know how large a release occurred but said the concentration of contaminants was low, which is why Williams doesn’t believe the release is responsible for the tainted spring water.

She said the contamination discovered by Williams could have come from any of a number of sources, such as trucks, tanks or contents of the pit itself.

Richard Djokic, an attorney for Prather, could not be reached for comment Friday.


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