More Site Visits for Wheatley Businesses & Residents

As the investigation into the gas leak in Wheatley continues, municipal officials are in the process of allowing business operators and residents visits to their properties.

A total of 110 approved site visits have taken place. All but three residents who registered with the municipality for home visits have made them. More than twenty businesses have had Initial visits.

Thomas Kelly, Chatham-Kent’s General Manager of Infrastructure and Engineering Services said businesses and residents with special conditions will be given initial priority on the hour-long visits with the remainder of residents who request second visits to follow.

At present, visits can only take place during gaps in work on the site. This week will see the installation of gas vapour probes in the municipal parking lot behind the site of the explosion on Erie Street. Two groundwater monitoring wells will also be installed in the area.

Fire and Emergency Service Chief Chris Case said the area around last year's explosion remains a live operational incident and is subject to an ongoing investigation by the office of the Ontario Fire Marshal.

"Protocols remain in place for the safety of those entering the site and those working there," he said. “The work to date to vent and control the known sources of gas has resulted in a much safer area.  The work area is safer for those engaged in the investigation work and we are advised that the potential for a future release to impact beyond the evacuation zone is much reduced.”

April Rietdyk, General Manager, Community Human Services, said the municipality realizes it is important that residents have the opportunity to gather additional personal and household items.

"Residents left their homes with no warning and they have had to make do in new circumstances without even some of the basic items we take for granted in day-to-day living. We want them to have an opportunity to go in and bring out what they can within the limitations of the site."

Provincial officials have estimated that the investigation and mitigation process could take an additional 14 weeks.