Windsor

Chatham-Kent prepares site near Wheatley explosion ahead of another 'expected' gas leak

The southwestern Ontario municipality of Chatham-Kent says it is ready for another gas release, expected in the "next few days," as a new year starts with no definitive answers to why an explosion rocked Wheatley last summer.

Officials in Ontario municipality say they have vented the area, are monitoring it

Last week, a second gas well was discovered near the site of an explosion in Wheatley, Ont., last summer. Officials say they have properly vented the area and are ready should another gas release take place in the coming days. (Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

The municipality of Chatham-Kent says Wheatley is prepared for another "expected" gas leak, which is anticipated to take place in the "next few days" near the site where an explosion took place this summer. 

In a news release Thursday, officials said they have properly vented the area so that if a gas leak takes place, they will be ready. 

According to the municipality, gas was last detected at the site on Nov. 21 — the second time gas was found since the explosion in late August. Based on past records, which show gas buildup and release happens between 38 and 47 days, another release is expected in the coming days, officials say. 

The municipality also warned nearby residents that they may see a flame during the gas leak. 

On Dec. 23, officials announced a second gas well was discovered near the site of the explosion. This discovery halted excavation work that was underway and the municipality said the well was under investigation. 

It's unknown if this well is linked to the explosion that has left some residents and businesses unable to return. 

Inspectors collecting info, area being monitored

Now, the municipality said, this second well has been connected to a test separator. 

A test separator diverts water from the well to a holding tank and will send any gases to a temporary venting stack, "with the capability to flare," the municipality explained in the news release. 

It said the test separator will also allow for sampling and data recording during the gas leak that the team will then be able to analyze. 

Petroleum inspectors from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry (NDMNRF) have been on the site to collect information. 

Emergency service and security personnel will continue to monitor the area. 

The municipality said resident visits and the winterization of buildings will be able to restart "when it is appropriate to do so."

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