Contractors are preparing to begin the next investigative step on the APEC 3 well at the far end of the municipal parking lot near the intersection of Erie and Elm Streets.
The investigation will determine whether the well was drilled for water or gas exploration and the findings will determine remediation steps.
Work is also underway to re-open Talbot Street East and West and Erie Street South. Those streets could be open early next week.
Advance voting for the June 2 provincial election which has been taking place at the Wheatley United Church, 59 Talbot Road concludes today at 8:00 pm. That same location will be the polling station on election day, June 2.
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent has secured a further $3.9 million from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade to support the community of Wheatley after the explosion in August of last year, bringing the total amount secured to $5.9 million.
Downtown Wheatley business owners and co-chairs of the BIA Mike and Erika Renwick said, "we are pleased to see this additional Provincial funding distributed. We appreciate the ongoing efforts of the Municipality’s Economic Development department in their communications surrounding the funding from the province. Our hope is that these additional funds will help to alleviate some of the continued financial hardships these businesses have endured and we look forward to the continued support of the province in regard to this."
To date, $1.97 million has been distributed amongst 30 businesses, four not-for-profit organizations and 19 commercial properties over the last several months, helping provide much-needed financial assistance while they are unable to operate.
“We’d like to thank the businesses of Wheatley for their patience, understanding, and tenacity during this difficult process. We’d also like to thank Premier Ford and his team for their diligent efforts to get these funds released into our community,” said Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff. “This process has shown what can be accomplished when a fluid collaborative relationship is established between municipal and provincial government.”
The additional $3.9M is being distributed in three phases designed to assist the affected businesses with revenue losses up to August 2022, with the first disbursement taking place immediately to approved applicants.
“Our municipality has been focusing on doing everything we can to help the affected businesses of Wheatley. We’re thankful that the province of Ontario has been at the table working with us from day one and hopefully this additional $3.9 million will help the businesses during the time it takes to open their doors again,” said Stuart McFadden, Director of Economic Development Services.
Chatham-Kent Economic Development has been coordinating the process of fund disbursement to the displaced businesses and will continue to play a role in providing affected businesses with up-to-date information, guidance, and support.
The clean-up and restoration of utilities to properties formerly in the evacuation zone in Wheatley continues this week.
As of this morning, 14 customers have had their electricity restored and ten have had their water turned on. Three dumpsters have been placed outside the evacuation zone for the convenience of residents. At this time, residents are not being billed for water usage.
Portable washroom facilities have been made available for residents who are working on their properties but haven't had water restored.
Earlier this month, the evacuation zone was reduced. A map of the new zone can be found on Let's Talk Chatham-Kent/Wheatley-Updates.
Chatham-Kent Public Works Director Ryan Brown said officials are examining data from two incidents last week involving the release of a low level of combustible gas.
There was a release of gas Friday morning and a second release Friday night that lasted until Saturday morning. In both cases, the systems, procedures and venting stack worked according to design.
The last release at APEC 1 happened in November of 2021.
Brown said the incidents demonstrated the effectiveness of safety procedures in place and served as a reminder that the situation is not yet fully resolved.
Chatham-Kent Fire Chief Chris Case said Fire and Emergency Services provided additional resources and air monitoring around the perimeter of the evacuation zone to ensure safety.
"There are valid reasons why we have been on site non-stop since gas was detected last June," he said. "Although there was no threat to public safety on the weekend, we cannot let our guard down. We will remain in place until such time as the situation is resolved."
On Friday, April 22nd, a low level of combustible gas was released at the Wheatley site. The systems, procedures and venting stack worked according to design and the gas was effectively flared off.
Public safety continues to be our priority focus and at no point was their any danger to the public. Chatham-Kent Fire and Emergency Services provided additional resources and air monitoring around the perimeter of the evacuation zone to ensure that safety.
A second event occurred later in the evening and steps were taken to ensure ongoing safety including igniting the flare stack to control the gas and staffing up the site for overnight observation.
By 9:00 a.m. this morning gas levels had reduced to allow the stack to be extinguished and regular monitoring returned by the on-site team.
“We are pleased that the mitigation equipment/procedures on-site are working exactly as planned and are confident that the current evacuation zone remains secure.”, said Ryan Brown.
Re-drilling of the Tait Well is continuing today and the work will continue into the weekend. Property visits within the evacuation zone are suspended while this work is underway. Property visits will resume when feasible to do so.
Last week the evacuation zone was reduced. Work is currently underway to restore utilities in the thirty-four properties that are no longer part of the evacuation zone.
Those wishing to review the map showing the reduction of the evacuation zone and Canada Revenue documents for residents and business owners can be found on Let's Talk Chatham-Kent/Wheatley-Updates.
The Municipality recognizes that many residents and businesses remain evacuated and are in need of continuing support. Case Managers and Economic Development staff are available to provide support to our residents and business owners.
A reminder to those living and working in Wheatley:
- Victim Services is available to provide support. For those needing assistance, contact 519-436-6630 or visit https://ckvictimservices.com/.
- The Village Resource Centre is available to provide food, clothing and aid at 108 Talbot Street East, 226-484-1004.
- Evacuees can call 519-351-8573 during office hours and speak to a Wheatley Crisis Case Manager. After office hours they can call 519-354-6628 and they will be assisted with access to an on-call supervisor.
Re-drilling of the Tait Well in the APEC 2 area in Wheatley will pause during the coming weekend to allow the contractor to assess the work done to date.
This will allow residents in the new, smaller evacuation zone an opportunity to access their properties. Residents who want access should contact their caseworkers or call the Municipality at 3-1-1.
The evacuation area has been reduced and restaging of fencing to the new evacuation zone has been completed.
A map showing the reduction of the evacuation zone can be found on Let's Talk Chatham-Kent/Wheatley-Updates.
Investigation and remediation work is continuing in the new smaller evacuation zone.