Detected gas forces Wheatley to hit pause again

·2 min read

After waiting for equipment to arrive to continue work in downtown Wheatley, crews have once again been forced to hit pause.

A small amount of gas was recently detected while a work crew dug around an existing well near last year’s massive explosion in downtown Wheatley.

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent reported that monitoring systems picked up gas on July 6 at approximately 3 p.m. while crews were working at the site of one of the wells. The gas stopped around two hours later.

According to municipal officials, workers were excavating around the site in preparation for driving a larger conductor pipe over the existing well when the release occurred.

“Work stopped, and samples of the gas were taken for analysis,” municipal officials said.

Municipal officials are gathering and reviewing the collected data to determine when work can safely resume.

Chatham-Kent fire Chief Chris Case confirmed that safety plans guiding operations at the downtown site worked as planned.

“Gas was collected and directed to the vent to be flared,” said Case. “At no time was there a risk to our community located beyond the evacuation zone.”

Chief Case noted a sufficient amount of gas was present for people nearby to detect a smell.

He noted instruments detected 24 parts per billion in the atmosphere, which is less than one-hundredth of the amount that would represent a safety hazard.

The municipality said officials are reviewing the gathered data to determine when work can resume.

The work being done at the downtown site now involves placing the conductor pipe around the well and sealing the shaft with the help of cement or similar material.

Officials said the old well, roughly 100 feet deep, was likely used as a water source.

After this work is completed, further remediation at the site will be needed. Officials estimate it will likely take another two to three weeks.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News

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