Mayor seeks provincial action on Wheatley gas explosion

Media Release

August 27, 2021


Mayor Canniff calls on province to fulfill its responsibility regarding ongoing Wheatley gas leak issue

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff this morning called on the provincial government to use its authority and expertise to respond to a recurring hydrogen sulphide leak believed to be the cause of an explosion In Wheatley's downtown core Thursday.

Twenty people received medical aid and one Chatham-Kent employee remains in hospital as the result of a blast that leveled a building at 15 Erie Street North and severely damaged numerous others in the Erie/Talbot Street intersection.

It is the third detected leak in the area since June. The previous two leaks resulted in evacuations and an evacuation was underway Thursday when the explosion took place.

"I want to express my thanks for the more than 100 first responders and municipal staff who saved lives by evacuating as much of the area as they could before the explosion," he said, "but we cannot allow this situation to continue."

"It is unacceptable for the people of Wheatley to live in fear. We are continuing our calls for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to take control of the situation and use its authority and expertise to find the source of the leak and correct the issue."

Chatham-Kent Fire Chief Chris Case said a two-block area around the blast site has been evacuated and will continue to be cordoned off until further notice. "A hazmat team has placed monitors around the perimeter of the evacuated area and there is gas being detected. It is too dangerous to enter the area. The risk of another explosion is very real."

Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire said, “We need the province to see the urgency in the situation. We have provided the ministry with all of the information we have been able to gather that indicates this leak is coming from an abandoned gas well. It is clear that the province has the responsibility, the authority and the expertise to act."

Shropshire said the inaction is putting the lives of residents and first responders at risk.

"We cannot expect those members of our community or those individuals from Windsor-Essex who responded to put their lives on the line in this manner."

Municipal officials have requested a meeting with the province to demand a formal plan of action.



For more information contact:

Don Shropshire
Chief Administrative Officer
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
519-360-1998 x 3624


Darrin Canniff
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
519-360-1998 x 3001

Media Contact:
Jim Blake
Communications Officer
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
519-360-1998 x 3624


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