Price tag for Wheatley emergency up to $5.5 million

The emergency response and investigation in downtown Wheatley cost the Municipality of Chatham-Kent at least $5.5 million.

A report go to the council meeting on Monday evening describes the expenses incurred until the end of 2021.

The largest expenditure items are contracts, salaries and security. Contracts and consulting fees cost the municipality $2 million, salaries cost $1.8 million, and the security bill is nearly $671,000.

The province has agreed to provide up to $2 million in expenses and the municipality said it is continuing discussions to have the province cover the remaining expenses not covered by this grant.

The municipality and province are working together to identify and address the source of the multiple hydrogen sulfide gas leaks since June 2021 and to support downtown Wheatley residents driven from their properties by the leaks and explosion that occurred there. seven months ago.

Residents of the two blocks around the downtown explosion site near 15 North Erie Street remain displaced to this day.

Meanwhile, the next phase of the investigation begins this week.

Chatham-Kent Fire Chief Chris Case said residents of downtown Wheatley shouldn’t be alarmed by heavy activity for the next few days to a week.

“There will be big equipment arriving on the scene, they will see operations taking place, honking, possibly burnt gas. These are things that are completely normal and natural in these operations, I was told,” Case said.

Case said its firefighters will also be going door to door to make sure residents are informed and feel comfortable.

“For those people who live closest to the evacuation zone, we will again try to go door to door to answer any questions, reassure and make sure everyone knows what is going on. We prefer that rather than surprises for the community,” said Chief Case

The municipality also said a fourth abandoned gas well had not been found after trenching and asphalt removal was carried out around the outside of 17 Talbot Road East.

Some owners had the chance to view their properties over the weekend, but viewings have again been suspended while this new stage of the investigation continues.

Eleanor C. William