PARACHUTE, Colo. (KKCO) -- Monday night, community members fired back questions at a meeting concerning the hydrocarbon leak near Parachute Creek that was detected in groundwater a little over a month ago.
The buzz before the meeting centered around the change in agency leadership dealing with the spill. Originally the remediation and investigation of the leak was spearheaded by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, but now the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is taking over.
Matt Lapore from the COGCC said the leadership switch had nothing to do with increased danger or severity of the spill.
"The leak occurred in a pipe after processing at the gas plant. Therefore it is not exploration waist, but rather a hazardous material, and that is why the CDPHE has taken the lead," said Lapore.
Tonight Dave Walker, Hazardous Waist Corrective Action Project Manager, said the benzene only reached groundwater in the area where the creek water level is low.
"At the site of the leak, the creek level is three feet above groundwater, and the level decreases as it heads down stream, reaching -0.5 feet at the seeping location where benzene has entered the groundwater," said Walker.
Steps to remove and monitor any remaining benzene includes:
- Continued use of recovery well sites along Parachute Creek
- Twice daily sampling at Parachute Irrigation Diversion (no benzene detection at this point)
- Force air bubbles into the ground water to speed up benzene evaporation time
Walker said the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment expects to have the benzene removed by summer but did not give a specific date.
Officials said the goal is to reach non-detectable benzene levels, or one microgram per liter.
Officials also said the spill has not and will not affect drinking water or wildlife and said all of the soil impacted has been excavated.
Still, many residents are worried about the contamination and fear the amount and reach of the hydrocarbon has not fully been detected.
"I don't know that we will ever feel comfortable here in western Colorado; the water shed here doesn't get the protection that other areas of the Colorado water enjoy," said Concerned resident Dave Devanney.