Water from Parachute Creek is no longer safe to drink; it contains more than five parts per billion of cancer-causing benzene after a 241-gallon spill at Williams Energy caused liquid natural gas to seep into the ground and into the water system. Interestingly, the fracking plant has been tasked with overseeing its own cleanup after causing the fracking-related water contamination.
Shortly after the fracking accident, the state of Colorado revised the amount of fines it could charge for environmental damage caused by an industrial complex. At the time of the spill, Colorado had a cap on fines set at $10,000, as it had been for the prior 50 years. To date, no fines have been levied against Williams Energy.
According to a consent order reached between the Colorado Department of Public Health and Williams Cos. Inc. and its subsidiary Bargath LLC, no fine was levied for the fracking accident that caused the water contamination because the spill was an accident. It was the result of a failure of equipment at the natural gas processing plant rather than negligence.
An irrigation reservoir two miles downstream from Parachute Creek has been closed since the spill. While Parachute Creek is not listed as a source of drinking water in Colorado – the nearby Town of Parachute has a separate water system – the fracking-related spill illustrates the dangers this section of the oil and gas industry poses to the general public.
Source: Grist, “Fracking accident leaks benzene into Colorado stream,” May 24, 2013