The deadly potential of benzene

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- The discovery of benzene within 30 feet of Parachute Creek brings back chilling memories for Silt resident Lisa Bracken.

Bracken said her father developed pancreatic cancer after drinking water from West Divide Creek, which she said was found to have high levels of benzene in it from a gas seep. He died three years later.

“It’s what you don’t know, what you don’t see,” she said. “We didn’t see that in the water. It’s what you don’t see and don’t smell that can really do the longest lasting and most devastating damage to the environment and the people who live in the environment.”

The devastation Bracken has undergone is resurfacing as she fears what the future holds in Parachute.

“My biggest concern is it’s a far worse problem than they say,” Bracken said.

Williams Energy crews discovered benzene, a known carcinogen, in three ground water monitoring wells 30 feet from Parachute Creek on Thursday. One well contained 18,000 parts-per-billion (bbp) of the chemical, far above the state’s health standard of 5 ppb.

Todd Hartman, spokesperson for Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said sampling is expected to begin tomorrow on new monitoring wells. Hartman-- and Williams Energy officials-- maintain Parachute Creek has not been impacted from the leak.

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