Energy policy — oil and gas: State officials close to finalizing a plan to deal with Ned Prather’s benzene tainted spring

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

Neslin told the state commission Monday that agency staff “are hopefully close to finalizing a schedule for bringing these matters to closure.” The schedule would set forth deadlines for any further testing or reporting by companies under investigation. It also would include completion of a settlement agreement or withdrawal of notices of alleged violation against the companies “by a date certain,” or a hearing before the commission early this summer to consider an order of violation and imposition of penalties, Neslin said. Contamination of the first spring was detected after Ned Prather became ill by drinking benzene-tainted water May 30, 2008. Benzene, a carcinogen associated with oil and gas production, later was found in a second spring.

Richard Djokic, attorney for the Prather family, said it’s his understanding that the latest sampling continues to show benzene is present in both springs. The state is investigating nearby operations by Williams Production RMT as the possible source of the first spring’s contamination and suspects OXY USA in the case of the second spring.

Oil and gas commissioner Tresi Houpt, who also is a Garfield commissioner, told Neslin Monday, “I would hate for us to bump into a situation where the snow starts falling again before we’ve done anything to help remediate this.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

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