Wheatley Updates

Key Dates

June 2, 2021 - a state of emergency was declared in downtown Wheatley after the presence of hydrogen sulphide gas was detected. The state of emergency resulted in an evacuation order for several properties in the immediate vicinity of where the gas was detected.

June 19, 2021 - based on the advice of technical experts, the evacuation order was narrowed to two properties.

July 19, 2021 - Hydrogen sulphide was again detected by monitors that were installed. This resulted in an evacuation of 23 residential properties and 13 commercial properties.

August 26, 2021 - Chatham-Kent emergency services were on the scene after gas monitoring devices placed at the site indicated the presence of gas. First responders had evacuated the buildings closest to the alarm and were in the process of evacuating a wider area when an explosion occurred. A two-block area around the blast site was evacuated and the evacuation order remains in effect to date.

September 20, 2021 - the Municipality signed an agreement with the provincial Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry to take the lead in the investigation.

September 21, 2021 - Premier Doug Ford visited the affected site.

September 22, 2021 - Minister Greg Rickford announced that the province has allocated $2 million to help businesses affected in Wheatley get back to business. He also confirmed that the province has entered into an agreement with Golder Associates to locate the source of the gas.

March 29, 2022 - Tait Well Re-Drilling Work Imminent - An oil and gas drilling contractor is anticipated to begin re-drilling the Tait Well, located in the APEC 2 area.

December 7, 2022 - Fencing to be installed along Erie Street North in preparation for street re-opening.

Key Dates

June 2, 2021 - a state of emergency was declared in downtown Wheatley after the presence of hydrogen sulphide gas was detected. The state of emergency resulted in an evacuation order for several properties in the immediate vicinity of where the gas was detected.

June 19, 2021 - based on the advice of technical experts, the evacuation order was narrowed to two properties.

July 19, 2021 - Hydrogen sulphide was again detected by monitors that were installed. This resulted in an evacuation of 23 residential properties and 13 commercial properties.

August 26, 2021 - Chatham-Kent emergency services were on the scene after gas monitoring devices placed at the site indicated the presence of gas. First responders had evacuated the buildings closest to the alarm and were in the process of evacuating a wider area when an explosion occurred. A two-block area around the blast site was evacuated and the evacuation order remains in effect to date.

September 20, 2021 - the Municipality signed an agreement with the provincial Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry to take the lead in the investigation.

September 21, 2021 - Premier Doug Ford visited the affected site.

September 22, 2021 - Minister Greg Rickford announced that the province has allocated $2 million to help businesses affected in Wheatley get back to business. He also confirmed that the province has entered into an agreement with Golder Associates to locate the source of the gas.

March 29, 2022 - Tait Well Re-Drilling Work Imminent - An oil and gas drilling contractor is anticipated to begin re-drilling the Tait Well, located in the APEC 2 area.

December 7, 2022 - Fencing to be installed along Erie Street North in preparation for street re-opening.

  • Drilling Completed on One of Two Monitoring Wells

    Contractors completed drilling on the monitoring well near APEC 2 without incident Monday and will be drilling the second monitoring well this week.

    Work on that well was halted for a short time Sunday when a pocket of gas was discovered. The gas emission lasted 15 minutes, safety protocols in place were initiated and work resumed when it was safe to do so. Officials say the emission isn’t uncommon in such drilling.

    Drilling of a second monitoring well near the Wheatley arena will be completed by the end of this week. Residents are asked to stay behind barricades erected near the site. Anyone with questions can call 3-1-1.

    Equipment for re-drilling the Tait well at APEC 2 in the municipal parking lot is expected to arrive on site this week. Information gathered from this work as well as a sampling of regional gas wells for comparison with on-site samples should provide more information for investigators.

    Municipal officials note that rumours regarding further demolition of buildings in the area are inaccurate.

    As part of the investigation, a few severely damaged buildings were required to be removed. However, no decisions have been made with regard to the demolition of any other buildings within the evacuation zone.

  • Hydrogen Sulphide Gas Emission in Wheatley

    Contractors drilling a monitoring well near the APEC 2 site in Wheatley struck a pocket of hydrogen sulphide gas 85 feet below the surface at 11:05 am yesterday morning.

    Safety measures worked as designed and the site was evacuated and there were no injuries. A loud hissing noise accompanied the emission which lasted until 11:20 am.

    Thomas Kelly, Chatham-Kent’s General Manager of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, said a mobile vent stack system at the site of the well drilling was successfully deployed which allowed the gas to vent into the atmosphere without incident.

    Drilling was stopped and the crew moved out of the hot zone after connecting the well to the prepared vent system to dissipate the gas.

    Work has since resumed.

    Fire and Emergency Services Chief, Chris Case, credited a well-designed and practised safety plan with ensuring the incident was handled successfully.

    “As part of our response plan, we have firefighters 24/7 on-site, they are supported by the Wheatley firefighters who were called. We do not use lights/sirens so as not to cause stress to the local community,” he said.

    Additional Chief Officers and Medics deployed on standby as the engineering team continued their work.

    On-site hazmat and technicians moved in to check that the area was safe while fire crews and technicians began mobile monitoring around the area.

    “We were advised that the event had concluded and that apart from the detectors close to the drill site no gas had travelled creating a risk to the community. All response teams were stood down around midday and the engineers have returned to work. I am pleased to advise that the plans, which are practiced and drilled regularly, worked,” he said.

    Kelly said the APEC 2 monitoring well is the first of two monitoring wells to be installed. One well will reside inside the investigation area and the second just outside the evacuation zone. These wells will allow the investigation team to obtain groundwater and gas samples to support the chemical modelling work.

    Case said the incident demonstrates the unpredictable and potentially dangerous conditions that can occur and supports the cautious approach taken by authorities to only allow access to properties when work is not underway.

  • More Site Visits for Wheatley Businesses & Residents

    As the investigation into the gas leak in Wheatley continues, municipal officials are in the process of allowing business operators and residents visits to their properties.

    A total of 110 approved site visits have taken place. All but three residents who registered with the municipality for home visits have made them. More than twenty businesses have had Initial visits.

    Thomas Kelly, Chatham-Kent’s General Manager of Infrastructure and Engineering Services said businesses and residents with special conditions will be given initial priority on the hour-long visits with the remainder of residents who request second visits to follow.

    At present, visits can only take place during gaps in work on the site. This week will see the installation of gas vapour probes in the municipal parking lot behind the site of the explosion on Erie Street. Two groundwater monitoring wells will also be installed in the area.

    Fire and Emergency Service Chief Chris Case said the area around last year's explosion remains a live operational incident and is subject to an ongoing investigation by the office of the Ontario Fire Marshal.

    "Protocols remain in place for the safety of those entering the site and those working there," he said. “The work to date to vent and control the known sources of gas has resulted in a much safer area. The work area is safer for those engaged in the investigation work and we are advised that the potential for a future release to impact beyond the evacuation zone is much reduced.”

    April Rietdyk, General Manager, Community Human Services, said the municipality realizes it is important that residents have the opportunity to gather additional personal and household items.

    "Residents left their homes with no warning and they have had to make do in new circumstances without even some of the basic items we take for granted in day-to-day living. We want them to have an opportunity to go in and bring out what they can within the limitations of the site."

    Provincial officials have estimated that the investigation and mitigation process could take an additional 14 weeks.

  • Vapour Probes & Ground Water Wells Installed

    Work crews in downtown Wheatley will begin the installation of gas vapour probes in the municipal parking lot behind the site of the explosion on Erie Street. Two groundwater monitoring wells will also be installed in the area.

    Last week saw the completion of the camera investigation of APEC 1 and 3. Although there was no conclusive evidence as to whether the wells are gas or water in nature, information gathered will be helpful to the technical team to arrange the next steps of the investigation.

    The Municipality hosted a 90-minute virtual public information session on Saturday. The session featured municipal and provincial officials providing updated information and taking part in a question-and-answer period.

  • Third Wheatley Well Vented

    supporting image

    Excavation of the third well in downtown Wheatley (APEC 3) has been completed and a temporary venting system installed. Air samples taken from that site have been collected for laboratory analysis.

    The next phase in the process will be to place cameras in all three of the wells with the aim of learning more about the construction and depth of the wells.
    That process is expected to take place by January 28.

    Homeowner access continues in between any investigatory work.

  • Deadline for Wheatley Housing Assistance

    The deadline for applying for the Provincial Wheatley Residents Assistance Program funded by MMAH (Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing) is January 31, 2022. If residents have not yet applied for either the lump-sum payment for emergency expenses or the assistance program for additional housing costs, please contact a Wheatley Case Manager by calling 519-351-8573.

    Additional Housing costs include:

    • Temporary Housing up to $4,000.00 per month while evacuated. The amount calculated is the difference between current housing costs and previous rent at the resident’s evacuated residence.
    • Permanent Housing if residents do not plan on returning to their pre-evacuation residence, they may receive up to $8,000.00 to assist with one-time housing costs – including last month's rent, moving expenses, furnishings and utility hook-ups.

    In addition to applications, January 31 is also the due date for any outstanding paperwork requested by the province in relation to housing assistance applications.

    If residents need assistance in applying for the program, please contact a Wheatley Case Manager at 519-351-8573 prior to the deadline of January 31, 2022. Provincial funding for both these programs ends on March 31, 2022.

  • Workplan for Wheatley

    Municipal officials are reviewing a work plan which will establish the next steps on the remediation of an ongoing gas emission situation in downtown Wheatley.

    Chatham-Kent CAO Don Shropshire said a plan has been submitted by the firm engaged by the province to lead the project.

    “We have a preliminary work plan now under review,” he said. “Once that has taken place, our plan is to hold a virtual public meeting with Wheatley residents and provide information as to next steps.”

    Work at APEC (Area of Potential Environmental Concern) 2 to bring the well to the surface is substantially complete. The contractor is awaiting several parts to connect this well to the test separator system. That is expected to be complete early next week

    The contractors completed an investigatory excavation at APEC 3 and discovered a brick well structure with a small wooden casing extending from the bottom approximately 12 feet below the surface. Small amounts of methane have been detected emitting from the well structure. Work is currently ongoing to further investigate whether the structure is a water well or a gas well. A laboratory sample will be obtained for analysis.

    This week some members of the on-site team were placed under COVID-19 protocol. This will cause minor delays to homeowner access this weekend while staffing resources are re-arranged.

    Shropshire said evacuated residents with questions should contact their caseworkers at Chatham Kent Health and Family Services and businesses should contact Economic Development Services. Individuals with general questions are asked to call 3-1-1.

    Shropshire urged the community to watch the video of a Wheatley update presentation to Council at its January 17 meeting.

    A video of the presentation can be found at https://www.letstalkchatham-kent.ca/wheatley-updates/widgets/112620/videos/8697.

    By clicking on the Non-Agenda Business section, the video will begin at the appropriate time.

    Shropshire thanked the more than 750 individuals who have registered for an email subscription list to keep them updated. “We’re grateful that so many people want to know the facts and keep up with the latest news. Whether you’re a resident or not of Wheatley you are welcome to subscribe to these updates.”

    To join the list, follow this link.

    https://www.chatham-kent.ca/services/digitalresources/Pages/Subscription-Services.aspx

    No gas release has taken place since November 21 and given the interval between previous gas leak events, officials are expecting a release soon although topographical changes and cold weather may be having an effect on the site.

    Photos one and two are of the well (APEC 3). The third photo is an overhead of the scene with APEC 3 included.

  • Additional Well Monitoring Equipment Being Installed

    As work continues to connect the second of two wells in Wheatley to monitoring equipment, another 10 individuals were allowed temporary access to their properties during the weekend.

    The second well (Apec 2) was brought to the surface last week and workers on site are connecting it to the test separator and installing monitoring equipment as was done with the first well (Apec 1).

    The test separator and venting system connected to APEC 1 remains in place which functions to improve the overall safety of the site.

    Residents and property owners seeking temporary access to check on their properties are required to register with the municipality for scheduling purposes and to allow emergency personnel to determine if the property is safe to enter.

    To date, 69 appointments have been completed and 21 appointments are ready to be booked for properties evacuated but not in the immediate vicinity of the August 26 blast. Officials are still prohibiting access to those sites due to safety concerns.

    Access will resume this week when any gaps in the work occur.

  • Progress Bringing Abandoned Well to Surface

    Image of construction and digging to bring the well to the surface

    Officials investigating the ongoing gas leak in Wheatley have made progress in bringing an abandoned well to the surface.

    On Monday, January 10, the casing stub for the abandoned well identified as APEC 2 (Area of Potential Environmental Concern) was exposed. Work continues today to bring the well casing (located in a municipal parking lot) to surface.

    Bringing the abandoned well to surface level will enable the team to monitor the well which will assist with identifying future activities and mitigation options.

    Once that Is accomplished officials plan to conduct tests with pressurized water to determine if an underground connection exists between the two wells.

    APEC 2 is approximately 50 metres from APEC 1, a well located at the scene of an explosion in August.

    No gas release has taken place since November 21 and given the interval between events officials are expecting a release soon. The test separator and venting system remain in place connected to APEC 1 which improves the overall safety of the site.

    Homeowner access will resume when appropriate to do so.

  • Next Steps for Wheatley Gas Leak

    Based on the pattern of the last six months, officials in Wheatley are anticipating a gas release within the coming week.

    Today is day 45 since the last release and the five previous releases dating back to June 2 of last year all took place between 38 and 47 days of each other.

    During the past few weeks, officials have demolished buildings near the 15 Erie Street North site of the August explosion. Excavation work has taken place and two wells have been confirmed.

    As a result of the work conducted, the landscape of the area has been changed significantly which officials say may impact the typical cycle time of the gas release.

    Preparations have been made to safely vent and capture a sample of gas for further analysis.

    The next step of the resolution process will be to bring one well to the surface, drill it and conduct tests with pressurized water to determine if an underground connection exists between the two wells.

    Depending on the gas release date, residents may see heavy equipment on site within a week.

    Fire and Emergency Services and security personnel will continue to be present at the site.

    Resident visits to evacuated dwellings will resume when it is appropriate to do so.

Page last updated: 16 Dec 2022, 11:22 AM