Officials on the scene in Wheatley have completed preparations to safely vent gas in anticipation of another gas release, which officials are anticipating will occur within the next few days.
Last week, municipal officials announced that preparations had been completed to vent gas in the community using a venting system safely.
Chatham-Kent General Manager of Infrastructure and Engineering Services Thomas Kelly said the past pattern of gas to build up and release has taken place between 38 and 47 days. Gas was last detected at the site on November 22, the fifth occurrence in six months.
“We anticipate the next release could be within a few days of December 31,” said Kelly. “We are venting and monitoring the gas to reduce any chance of further issues. We learn more each time a [gas] release takes place.”
According to Acting Chief Administrative Officer April Rietdyk, air monitoring will continue while officials examine the new information gathered this week. She added fire and emergency services and security personnel would continue to be present at the site using a controlled monitoring approach that will allow officials to gather more information if the expected gas release takes place.
Meanwhile, a second abandoned well was recently confirmed during excavation efforts. Experts on-site have been able to connect the well to a test separator.
Petroleum inspectors from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry have collected information.
“The test separator will divert any water from the well to a holding tank for safe disposal and send any gasses to a temporary venting stack with the capability to flare,” read the release. “The test separator will also allow for sampling and data recording during a gas release which will provide valuable data to the team.”
Fire and Emergency Service and security personnel will continue to be present at the site. The municipality added that a flame might be visible to nearby residents during the gas release.
Meanwhile, resident visits and building winterization continues to be put on hold and will be resumed when it’s safe to do so.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News