Gas pocket struck in Wheatley

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There were no injuries this morning when a team drilling a monitoring well in downtown Wheatley hit a pocket of hydrogen sulphide gas.

According to municipal officials, the contractors hit the gas pocket shortly after 11 a.m. about 85 feet underground.

The site was evacuated as a loud hissing noise accompanied the emission, which officials said lasted for about 15 minutes.

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, and that allowed the gas to vent 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 resumed.

Fire and Emergency Service 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 in a media release.

Additional personnel were 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.

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.

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