Photo courtesy of Municipality of Chatham-Kent)Photo courtesy of Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

Temporary access to Wheatley homes on hold as demolition work begins

Wheatley residents who were hoping to temporarily get back inside their homes will have to wait a little longer as demolition work begins.

Hydro poles and lines have now been removed near the site of the explosion and demolition work is set to begin. The demolition contractor is currently on-site and is mobilizing equipment for the next stage of the process.

"To ensure the safety of everyone involved, temporary home access has been suspended while this work is in process," the municipality stated in a news release. "If there is any downtime that occurs, temporary home access appointments will restart immediately."

The municipality said 16 homeowners were able to return to their properties over the weekend and efforts will continue to provide access for the remaining property owners and tenants.

The next phase of the investigation is to confirm if there’s a lateral pathway between the pub area and the abandoned well to confirm if there are any other sources of gas.

"All work performed on-site follows a comprehensive health and safety plan that was developed by expert engineering consultants," the news release read. "The safety of public, staff, and contractors remains the number one priority."

Building excavation will take place at 15 and 19 Erie Street North and 9 Talbot Trail West to try and find out where the gas is coming from.

A third area of potential environmental concern previously identified is a vent on the northwest corner of the municipal parking lot near Elm Street.

The area of 15 Erie Street North in Wheatley has experienced five hydrogen sulphide gas leaks since June 2, 2021 and an explosion on August 26, 2021 that injured 20 people, forced dozens from their homes and businesses, and damaged several buildings.

-With files from Paul Pedro

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