Toxic chemical benzene discovered in Parachute Creek

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PARACHUTE, Colo (KKCO) -- For the first time, test results are showing levels of benzene in the Parachute Creek.

The Department of Natural Resources says samples collected on Tuesday and Wednesday found benzene at 2.7 and 2.8 parts per billion. The state drinking water standard is 5 parts per billion.

The samples were taken about 1,200 feet downstream from where a valve was discovered leaking hydrocarbons near the Williams natural gas plant. The samples were analyzed at a mobile laboratory on the site.

In a press release, Garfield County Chief Communications Officer Renelle Lott says despite the relatively low readings, the presence of benzene is "of great concern." The Parachute Town Administrator, Parachute Public Works Department, the Battlement Mesa Metro District and the Town of DeBeque Public Works Department have all been notified of the situation.

However, the Town of Parachute does not draw its drinking water from Parachute Creek, so Lott says it is not at risk from this contamination.

Garfield County will hold a public meeting so the community can ask questions of the regulatory agencies overseeing the leak. The time and place of the meeting has not been released.

Williams officials have notified numerous local, state and federal authorities about the findings and say they are taking immediate steps to address the benzene in the surface water.

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