UPDATE: Leak contaminates 60,000 gallons of groundwater

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PARACHUTE, Colo. (KKCO) -- More than 1,400 barrels of groundwater have been contaminated by an underground oil leak near Parachute.

Colorado Department of Natural Resources reported Monday afternoon that 129 barrels of hydrocarbons and 1,444 barrels (60,648 gallons) of contaminated groundwater have been removed from the site, located four miles north of Parachute.

Crews from Williams Energy discovered the hydrocarbons while doing trenching operations on March 8, according to Williams’ spokesperson Donna Gray.

Williams officials reported the leak to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission the same day it was found. Since then, hydrovacuum trucks have been on-site, removing the hydrocarbons and contaminated groundwater.

“We consider this a serious event,” said Todd Hartman, spokesperson for Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “Oil is a contaminate, a toxin, and you don’t want it in the environment.”

Hartman said the primary focus is to keep the hydrocarbons out of Parachute Creek, which stands 60 feet from the site. So far, the creek has not been affected.

Gray said Williams crews sample the creek on a daily basis and do visual inspections of the creek every half hour.

Environmental Protection Agency Public Affairs Officer Matthew Allen said the EPA is issuing an order to Williams to take steps to ensure nothing reaches the creek.

Colorado Department of Natural Resources will also be issuing Williams a Notice of Alleged Violation, according to Hartman.

“We believe they’ve violated one or more rules,” Hartman said.

Though state officials, including Hartman, identify the leaking liquid as oil, Gray said it’s not oil and was not caused by an oil spill.

“This is natural gas product here, not oil,” Gray said. “We’ve seen reports that this is a major pipeline break; that’s not the case. We don’t know where this is coming from right now. That’s what we’re trying to find out.”

KKCO 11 News will continue to follow this story and update information as it becomes available.

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