Water Worries: State Investigating Three Waste Spills

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A cancer causing chemical was found in groundwater northwest of Parachute and now state regulators are investigating. 11 News Reporter Jessica Zartler spoke with a man whose brother drank that water and had to go to the hospital.

"He was doing work and got thirsty, took a cup and got some water from the cabin and before he drank half of it he knew something was wrong," a rancher who did not want to be identified told 11 News on Wednesday.

He says his brother is still having stomach problems more than a month after getting rushed to the hospital.

"Within a minute he knew his throat was burning," the man said.

The family filed a complaint with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and tests showed traces of a carcinogen called Benzine in the creek's water, well above state standards.

"I got grandkids, they used to run all over the mountain and play up there, now I won't even bring my dog because I'm afraid of the polluted water, that he might drink it," said the Rancher.

State regulators with the COGCC filed Notices of Alleged Violation against four companies in the investigation--Nonsuch Natural Gas, Marathon Oil, Williams Production RMT and Petroleum Development Corporation.

A spokersperson for Williams told 11 News in a phone interview that it had taken the lead in the investigation and was taking samples in the area. The company says it's also providing the family effected with bottled water and a larger tank for other uses.

Since the spill near the rancher's cabin in June, there have been two others reported in Garfield County--all three less than ten miles north of Parachute.

It's still not clear how far and if any chemicals may have flowed down to other tributaries or how safe the tap water is in the area.

And while the COGCC continues to investigate there are more questions than answers.

"I just wonder when and if they will ever get that water cleaned up," the rancher told 11 News.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission did not return calls to 11 News to answer questions about the three investigations.

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