3 firms face fines in Parachute spill cleanup

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — Three companies responding to a hydrocarbons spill near Parachute potentially exposed workers to benzene and other hazardous substances and face fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

According to OSHA documents obtained by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the agency alleged the firms failed to tell cleanup workers or contractors about the risk of exposure to hazardous waste in responding to the spill.

The agency also claimed that the firms didn’t develop decontamination procedures or ensure employees received safety training relating to the spill, the documents state.

Williams Co, which operates a natural gas processing plant in Parachute, first reported liquid hydrocarbons in the soil near its plant in March. The leak eventually was blamed on a burst pressure gauge on a pipeline leaving Bargath LLC’s gas processing plant northwest of Parachute. Bargath is a subsidiary of Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams.

More than 10,000 gallons of natural gas liquids contaminated groundwater with benzene. Crews dug trenches along a nearby creek and installed monitoring wells and aeration systems.

OSHA is seeking $9,180 in fines against W.C. Striegel Inc., a Rangely company that does pipeline work; $7,854 in fines against pipeline operator Bargath; and $10,200 in fines against Badger Daylighting Corp.

Bargath has not accepted OSHA’s allegations. Badger has not commented.

According to OSHA citations, Badger Daylighting employees did excavation work to find contaminated water and soil. W.C. Striegel employees did excavation work and removed contaminated soil. Bargath directed their work.

Benzene in groundwater was detected at levels reaching 18,000 parts per billion at one point in March. The federal standard for drinking water is 5 parts per billion.