Benzene found 30 feet from Parachute Creek

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO)-- While working to clean up the hydrocarbon leak near Parachute Creek, Williams Energy crews have discovered a significant amount of benzene.

Three groundwater monitoring wells located 30 feet from Parachute Creek showed benzene levels between 5,800 parts per billion and 18,000 ppb, well about the state health standard of 5 ppb.

The wells are located outside of a trench Williams crews built after first discovering the hydrocarbon leak.

Donna Gray, spokesperson for Williams Energy, said the purpose of the trench is to capture free flowing hydrocarbons. When asked if it was a concern that benzene was discovered outside of this trench, Gray said “no.”

Battlement Mesa resident Bob Arrington, who sits on the board for Garfield County Energy Advisory Board, said he isn’t convinced.

“They cannot begin to trap it all with their trenches because it’s floating by them since it’s somewhat soluble in water,” Arrington said. “Unless they go clear down to the bottom of the water table, they cannot begin to trap it all.”

Arrington said he’s also concerned about the information being released.

“We keep getting the same old story of ‘trust us,’ but we trusted them not to spill it in the first place,” he said.

Gray said she understands the concerns of residents but can give any more information than what’s known.

"We absolutely understand people's frustration and we want those answers too but we can only tell you what we know today and we're working diligently to find out the source of this but it does take time," Gray said.

So far, 4,200 barrels (176,400 gallons) of contaminated groundwater and 124 barrels (5,964 gallons) of hydrocarbons have been recovered

Williams crews have started digging a new trench located 10 feet from Parachute Creek in an effort to prevent the hydrocarbons from reaching any further.

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