By March 20, however, the COGCC had issued cease-and-desist orders against Williams and WPX, and ordered that measures be taken to protect Parachute Creek. The commission is presently preparing to issue Williams a "Notice of Alleged Violation" and demand a long-term cleanup plan.
Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) spokesman Todd Hartman said the DNR is also planning to issue a notice of alleged violation. And EPA spokesman Matthew Allen reported that the agency is working on issuing its own enforcement order outlining steps it wants taken to protect the creek.
The Colorado Wildlife Federation (CWF) has also chimed in, pointing out that the spill demonstrates that the COGCC needs to establish safe operational setbacks from waterways, an action the commission postponed five years ago. CWF also emphasized that better water monitoring might have led to an earlier detection of the contamination.
What We've Been Told about the Spill Is Probably Unreliable.
So far, everything we have been told, and are being told, about the Parachute Creek gas spill has come from government and industry "spokespersons." All of them, however, have a vested interest in suppressing the facts, magnitude, and overall seriousness of the situation. They are almost certainly withholding information, and we are probably being lied to. As revealed by their delayed responses regarding the spill, there were in fact initial cover-ups by Williams Midstream and WPX Energy, by Garfield County, by the COGCC, and by federal EPA officials.
At this point, its seems probable that contamination from the spill/plume has already severely impacted groundwater and will eventually reach Parachute Creek. We're not stupid.
Parachute Town Manager Bob Knight says locals haven't expressed much concern. The truth is, however, that local landowners have expressed their concerns to members of the media. Maybe, when it comes to oil & gas drilling, Parachute residents have given up on their town government, because town officials have their heads so far up the industry's ass-ets.
This Parachute Creek spill-plume-leak-seep is NOT in fact "status quo." This is not "just another spill." This is not business as usual. This is an ongoing underground flow of unidentified hydrocarbon-chemical liquid. Such an incident has never happened before. And it is not contained and it has not been stopped. It is happening right now !
Yet, the media are being kept out of the spill/plume site, and industry and government officials are doing everything they can to get the media to go away by controlling the flow of information and downplaying the situation.
We must hold Williams Midstream, WPX Energy, the COGCC, the EPA, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), and Garfield County accountable.
We must do everything we can to spread the word and keep this story alive.
We need a helicopter!
Peggy Tibbetts is the author of "Crazy b*tch: Living with Canine Compulsive Disorder," "PFC Liberty Stryker," and "Letters to Juniper," a 2012 Colorado Book Award finalist. She blogs at From the Styx and Advice from a Caterpillar.