An investigation has confirmed the location of an abandoned gas well near the site of an explosion in downtown Wheatley in August.
According to Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire, officials have always believed there was an abandoned gas well near the property. Now confirmed, he added it’s a major step in finding the source of the gas leaks and explosion.
While it is suspected to have played a role, the well has not been confirmed as the source of the gas leaks or explosion.
The municipality said further analysis needs to be completed before the source can be definitively pinpointed.
“We’re waiting for the results of the gas sampling,” said Shropshire. “Those will be compared to the samples taken from the initial gas that was released at the 15 Erie St. N. site.”
Shropshire added the technical advisory team would be able to confirm whether or not it is the same source. He added there’s no reason to suspect there couldn’t be additional sources as well.
The municipality’s top administrative officer said more financial help should be on its way from the province because of the overwhelming loss of income and extra expenses caused by the evacuation. He said the province should approve the financial support in one or two weeks’ time.
“For the people that have been evacuated from their homes, this is 148 days since the first gas was detected in June. It’s been two months and two days since the explosion,” said Shropshire.
The municipality added that the Fire Chief and the Technical Advisory Group are still determining if people can safely access their homes and businesses in the evacuation zone and develop a plan to allow property owners limited access if it’s safe.
Chatham-Kent’s chief building official and staff are on-site this week to determine if the buildings near the blast site are safe to enter before any access is granted.
The public is reminded the site is an active work zone, so people should not proceed beyond the barriers, officials said.
“We are doing everything we can to double down on the urgency. We recognize this has been really tough for people,” said Shropshire.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News