A state of emergency remains in effect, one week after a gas leak was discovered in Wheatley.
Emergency crews continue to monitor the area. The provincial Hazardous Materials team was at the scene last Friday and Chatham-Kent fire crews remain on site as well. Readings of toxic gases have dropped off significantly and are now considered to be negligible.
Municipal CAO Don Shropshire says they’re in a bit of a holding pattern.
“On the one hand, we’re not having toxic gases in the region, but we still have been unable to identify the location of the gases and why it stopped or whether it could become back,” Shropshire says. “We’re in a bit of a difficult position not knowing whether it’s safe to allow people to go back into the space.”
Four families remain evacuated and a number of businesses along Erie Street are still closed.
If the gas came from an abandoned gas well, the issue becomes the responsibility of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. However, if it originated from an old water well, as was the case in Leamington back in 2016, that shifts to the Ministry of Environment.
Shropshire says they’re doing what they can to get the situation resolved.
“We know the community’s’ very anxious to get back to some sense of normalcy, but we’ve got to do that in a very measured, deliberate way that we’re trying to identify the source and find some way to determine whether there’s any remediation required before people can safely go back to their homes and businesses.”
Shropshire says the province has provided information to the municipality, but has yet to take on any kind of responsibility for fixing the problem.