Windsor

Wheatley residents still waiting to return to homes, businesses as gas leak nears 2-week mark

Nearly two weeks after part of the southwestern Ontario community of Wheatley was evacuated due to a gas leak, residents are still waiting to learn when they can return to their homes and businesses.

Leak of toxic, flammable hydrogen sulfide has displaced some residents, businesses

Some buildings, including homes and businesses, were evacuated in Wheatley, Ont., earlier this month due to a gas leak. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Nearly two weeks after part of the southwestern Ontario community of Wheatley was evacuated due to a gas leak, residents are still waiting to learn when they can return to their homes.

Ivan Pelletier, who's been staying with a friend in Kingsville, said the uncertainly has been tough, though he has been able to get back into his home to retrieve some belongings.

"It's frustrating in a way, because I wish we would have some answers, you know, so I don't know. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. That's what everybody's [saying] ... just wait and see."

There's no word on when a section of Wheatley that has been evacuated due to a gas leak will be able to reopen. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

The gas leak prompted Chatham-Kent's mayor to declare a state of emergency in Wheatley on June 3.

It all started the day before, when a restaurateur noticed a rotten-egg-like smell in the basement of his establishment and something bubbling up from a drain.

The odour was later determined to be hydrogen sulfide, a highly toxic, flammable gas. Officials have speculated the gas may be emanating from an abandoned well somewhere.

According to the municipality of Chatham-Kent, 27 residents and an unspecified number of business owners were told to leave the area for safety reasons. Wheatley has a population of nearly 2,900 as of the 2016 Census.

As of Sunday, Chatham-Kent fire Chief Chris Case said officials still aren't sure of the source. 

"We still do not know what the source of the gas leak was or is; we're still getting low readings in the area, but we're still waiting for technical guidance prior to allowing people back in, because I'm still not sure the risk has been dealt with," he said.

He anticipates the state of emergency will remain in effect until the issue is resolved. 

An official with Chatham-Kent Fire & Emergency Services said fire crews remained on the scene Tuesday.

With files from Sanjay Maru and Jennifer La Grassa

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