Residents upset with handling of Parachute spill

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PARACHUTE, Colo. (KKCO) -- After the discovery of benzene in Parachute Creek on Thursday, some Garfield County residents are voicing their concerns about how the situation is being handled by the county and state.

Garfield County sent out a press release Thursday night saying it will be holding a public meeting about the issue. Now, four days later, a meeting has not been scheduled, and residents are wondering why.

“I question why they put out this information without scheduling a meeting so we're all waiting and wondering why haven't we heard from them before and what's taking them so long to schedule a meeting now?” said Garfield County resident Peggy Tibbetts.

Garfield County Chief Communications Officer Renelle Lott said the county is currently working on scheduling the meeting and coordinating with respective agencies.

Battlement Mesa resident Bob Arrington wrote Governor Hickenlooper a letter asking him to reassign the lead agency on the investigation from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“It's time to get the experts in there, the people that have the know-how, the equipment, the labs, and treat it as it should be because it's an environmental hazard now,” Arrington said.

On Thursday, lab results showed benzene levels of 2.7 and 2.8 parts per billion about 1,800 feet downstream from the leak, according to Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Todd Hartman. This was the first indication of contamination in the creek.

"We realize that we've made a mess, and we're going to clean it up," said Williams’ spokesperson Keith Isbell.

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