A natural gas well on the Canyons of Ancient National Monument in Colorado overflowed a tank after a valve was stuck open
According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the well is operated by Linde, Inc., and operates under a lease with the Bureau of Land Management.
Chris Krassin, assistant field manager of mineral lands for the Tres Rios District of the Bureau of Land Management, said a cleanup operation has removed the majority of the contaminated soils impacted by the spill.
“The company notified officials right away of the spill and have been cooperative,” Krassin said to The Journal. “The cleanup has gone well; it was mostly saline water.”
According to Monument Manager Marietta Eaton, there was no threat to the public and no designated trails were in the area of the well and spill. Officials said the company is in good standing and has complied with reporting and cleanup procedures. According to The Journal, no fines were issues.
The produced water is a saline byproduct of natural gas wells, according to The Journal. The water is separated from the gas and stored in tanks next to the well.
The workers vented the produced water from the gas well to the holding tank on Oct. 18, according to the commission spill report. However, when workers returned the next day, they discovered a dump valve had failed to close during the venting. This is also known as a blowdown.
According to the report, the tank then overflowed, breached secondary containment and flowed off the premises. The workers closed the valve and the flow stopped. The remaining water in the tanks and the secondary containment was vacuumed out and trucked off.
It was estimated that 3,150 gal of produced water spilled. According to The Journal, the spill flowed down a dry drainage and some went over a sandstone cliff into a canyon before stopping. The contaminated soil is being removed by hand from the drainage and lifted out in five-gal buckets because of the rugged terrain.
According to Krassin, officials were considering using pack animals, such as mules or horse, to haul the remaining soil from the less accessible area below the cliff. The well has now resumed operation, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.