Pipeline blowout near Parachute releases nitrogen | AspenTimes.com

Pipeline blowout near Parachute releases nitrogen

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado

PARACHUTE, Colo. A blowout from an EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) pipeline between Parachute and DeBeque on Aug. 11 caused a release of nitrogen into the air. No one was injured in the incident.Doug Hock, a spokesman for the company, said company workers were pressure testing the pipeline, a process he described as a safety protocol in which workers test a pipe before it can be put into service.We usually use either water, or in this case, nitrogen to do that, Hock said. You basically put some pressure in there with the nitrogen to see if it holds, and in this case, it did not.Hock said a chunk of pipeline blew out. All that was released from the incident was nitrogen, he said.Since all that was released was nitrogen, EnCana did not report the release to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Hock said.There was no need to report it because there was no release of anything other than air, basically, said Hock, adding the air humans breathe is 78 percent nitrogen.The company is investigating the incident to determine why the integrity of the pipe wasnt there, Hock said.The COGCC learned of the incident after a resident filed a complaint, said Tricia Beaver, a spokeswoman for the agency. She said the complainant witnessed a vapor plume, heard a large noise and felt the ground rumbling.Beaver said the COGCC contacted both EnCana and the complainant, who seemed happy that the incident was just a release of nitrogen and that we filed a complaint response report in our system to document the event.Our staff believes that all parties are considering that the matter is closed, Beaver said.Beaver said the incident was not a reportable incident under the COGCCs rules and regulations.Frank Smith, the oil shale/Grand Valley Citizens Alliance organizer for the Western Colorado Congress, said several people reported the incident to the organization when it occurred.He said some residents of DeBeque felt their homes shake from the blowout, and commuters driving on Interstate 70 between DeBeque and Parachute saw plumes of white vapor being emitted from a well pad.Smith said that hours after the incident occurred, the hole created by the blowout was filled in and scraps of metal were removed. He said COGCC officials did not learn about the incident until Wednesday, Aug. 20 a delay that concerned him. An incident like what occurred should have been reported immediately, he said.pyates@postindependent.com

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