Sec­ond Silver Hill gas well capped

Simcoe Reformer - - FRONT PAGE - MONTE SO­NEN­BERG

The toxic gas cri­sis in Silver Hill could be over as early as Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

Mar­lene Mi­randa, Nor­folk and Haldimand’s gen­eral man­ager of health and so­cial ser­vices, re­ported this week that the sec­ond of two nat- ural gas wells emit­ting toxic hy­dro­gen sul­phide has been capped.

The sec­ond well had gone 24 hours with­out emis­sions as of Tues­day night. If the read­ings re­main at zero through Thurs­day morn­ing the health unit plans to lift an evac­u­a­tion or­der af­fect­ing three house­holds.

“They could be back in their homes by Thurs­day af­ter­noon,” Mi­randa said at the end of Tues­day’s meet­ing of Nor­folk coun­cil.

Sev­eral house­holds on North Wals­ing­ham Road 10 were evac­u­ated Aug. 18 af­ter un­usu­ally high read­ings of hy­dro­gen sul­phide gas were de­tected in an area be­tween Forestry Farm Road and the North Wals­ing­ham East Quar­ter Line Road.

Hy­dro­gen sul­phide is an oc­ca­sional byprod­uct of nat­u­ral gas wells. It is toxic, cor­ro­sive, flammable and smells like rot­ten eggs.

The num­ber of house­holds served with evac­u­a­tion or­ders rose to six when un­usu­ally high read­ings of hy­dro­gen sul­phide gas were recorded at a sec­ond well im­me­di­ately west of the first.

Nor­folk County blocked a sec­tion of the con­ces­sion road mea­sur­ing nearly a kilo­me­tre in length in re­sponse to the sit­u­a­tion

Ian and Kim Grant brought the sit­u­a­tion to the at­ten­tion of the Haldimand-Nor­folk health unit this sum­mer. They have smelled hy­dro­gen sul­phide in the neigh­bour­hood for nearly two years and be­came con­cerned when me­tal ob­jects on their prop­erty be­gan to dis­colour.

The health unit and the En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources min­istries in­spected the sit­u­a­tion be­fore Dr. Mal­colm Lock, Nor­folk’s act­ing med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health, is­sued the evac­u­a­tion or­ders.

The cap­ping work was per­formed by Bradco Drilling of Mer­lin.

The well capped this week was on the Grant prop­erty. Funds for the cap­ping will be drawn from the MNR’s aban­doned gas well bud­get.

The first well capped last week is also on pri­vate prop­erty but was un­der li­cence to Union Gas. Be­cause it was a com­mer­cial well, the owner of the land where the well sits is re­spon­si­ble for the cap­ping ex­pense.

Sev­eral sources in the Silver Hill area say this sum­mer’s hy­dro­gen sul­phide prob­lem was pre­dictable af­ter the MNR capped a nat­u­ral gas vent in the area at Big Creek a cou­ple of years ago.

There are about a dozen nat­u­ral gas wells in the area. There was con­cern that pres­sure within the well field would seek re­lease else­where once the vent at Big Creek was blocked.

Mi­randa said health and min­istry of­fi­cials are aware of the well net­work.

Nor­folk has hired a con­sult­ing firm to alert the county if hy­dro­gen sul­phide gas finds an­other re­lease point in the neigh­bour­hood.

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