Cause of Kingsville gas leak still a mystery but officials say it points to a 'larger issue'
Partial state of emergency declared Monday, some residences evacuated
A gas leak in Kingsville, which prompted town officials to declare a partial state of emergency, is causing headaches for residents and businesses.
Since early Sunday morning, the Kingsville Fire Department has been at the scene of a convenience store and gas bar at Essex County roads 20 and 23, along with the Ontario Provincial Police and the Windsor Fire and Rescue Service HAZMAT team — but they've hit some snags in their cleanup effort, and it's unclear when the intersection will reopen.
"There's a larger issue than we they originally thought," said Andrew Plancke, Kingsville's director of municipal services, one day after homes and businesses within 500 metres of the scene were evacuated.
Town officials said they thought the leak would be a quick cleanup but it's turned into a bit of a mystery. Fuel is leeching into the ground and they are not sure where it is coming from.
Initially, crews thought the gas was likely coming from the existing tanks on site — but the levels haven't changed. One working theory is that the gas may be from an old tank on the property that wasn't properly documented.
Efforts to pump the fuel out in the crawl space beneath the convenience store have not been successful.
"The more they pulled from the inside, the more they were drawing in from the outside," said Plancke. "So we've got to find the source to stop it from coming into the building."
Meanwhile, the closure of this intersection is causing headaches for locals.
Traffic is being diverted at the intersections nearest to the leak and that is affecting businesses, like Meleg's Lakeview Orchard, which is located after one of those diversions.
Owner Tom Meleg told CBC News that business is "dead because the word is out to stay away," but he wants people to know vehicles are still allowed past the diversions to access businesses.
"I don't know what I'm going to do. This is my livelihood," said Tom Meleg, owner of Meleg's Lakeview Orchard.
"With all the COVID stuff going on and everything, we're trying to get going with the season. It's not been too bad. It started out pretty good — but this is really going to hit us hard if this road closure stays up."
Besides the convenience store and gas bar, four homes have been evacuated in the area.
Town officials couldn't say when the situation will be resolved, only estimating it will be at least another 24 hours before they can consider letting people back into their homes.
With files from Jacob Barker