Once again, Colorado's fracking boom has residents wondering if there's something in the water -- carcinogenic benzene, in this case. A plant for fracked natural gas processor Williams Energy, near Parachute, Colo., spilled an estimated 241 barrels of mixed natural gas liquid into the ground, some of which eventually washed as benzene into Parachute Creek.
More than two months after the spill was discovered, neighbors of the plant are wondering why the energy company is being put in charge of the cleanup -- and why the state has failed to issue any fines.
Benzene levels in Parachute Creek rose above a safe-to-drink 5 parts per billion following the spill, which was caused by a faulty pressure gauge on a four-inch pipeline.
The safety limit for benzene in Coloradoan drinking water sources is 5 parts per billion. But the state doesn't define the creek as a source of drinking water, and the limit for such water bodies is 5,300 parts per billion. Less than two miles downstream from the Williams Energy plant, headgates that control the flow of water from Parachute Creek into an irrigation reservoir have been closed since the spill was discovered.