Framework set to find source of Wheatley explosion, but residents' return to area up in the air

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The explosion in Wheatley, Ont., injured 20 people and destroyed two buildings. On Tuesday, a Chatham-Kent release said municipal and provincial officials have formed a technical advisory group to set parameters for the investigation. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
The explosion in Wheatley, Ont., injured 20 people and destroyed two buildings. On Tuesday, a Chatham-Kent release said municipal and provincial officials have formed a technical advisory group to set parameters for the investigation. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

There's no immediate timetable for residents to return to the area of last week's Wheatley, Ont., explosion as there are still structural concerns with some buildings and other issues, Chatham-Kent said in announcing a technical advisory group of municipal and provincial officials has been formed.

Don Shropshire, Chatham-Kent's chief administrative officer, said in a release Tuesday that there has been "significant movement" in preparing to find the source of the Aug. 26 explosion, which injured at least 20 people and destroyed two buildings.

The technical advisory group formed Monday will set the parameters of the investigation into the blast, in efforts to find the source of the hydrogen sulphide leak, which is the suspected cause, Shropshire said.

"Establishing how the effort will proceed is a necessary step to getting where we want to be," said Shropshire.

The site of the explosion is under inspection by members of Ontario's Office of the Fire Marshal. There are also a limited number of workers entering the downtown area who will be boarding up blown-out windows.

Dozens of residents and business owners were evacuated from the area.

Power restored to 90 customers

Shropshire couldn't give a timeframe for when residents and business owners within the two-block area of the evacuation to return.

"There are structural issues regarding a number of buildings, contaminated debris and the leak itself," he said. "It will be some time before we can contemplate allowing people into the area."

The release also said power has been restored to half of the 90 Entegrus customers whose electricity was turned off.

More than 100 households have sought aid at the reception centre at the Wheatley Arena and 13 families are being housed.

The centre is also accepting and distributing gift cards.

Residents looking to return to their properties in the non-evacuation zone should first contact 519-350-2956 to confirm their eligibility to enter the area.

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