Residents of Wheatley now have a better idea about the future state of their community after an explosion in August 2021 shocked the municipality.
A community meeting was held Wednesday night at the Talbot Trail Golf Course, which included a panel of experts and municipal staff who provided an update and answered questions from residents.
There has been progress with respect to the wells, which have been plugged, as well as the evacuation zone being reduced, and all roads being reopened.
Sean McFarland with Golder and Associates, the consultant tasked with finding what caused the blast and the source of the gas, presented a few recommendations to consider moving forward.
The first was to plug any potential pathways for natural gas migration through the clay till materials from the bedrock within Wheatley.
"Prohibit any drilling and pumping of new wells or boreholes within Wheatley that could lower groundwater levels and induce a gas kick or larger scale gas emission event," said McFarland. "Measures should be introduced to prevent future penetration through the protective clay cover and into the gas-bearing shallow aquifer within Wheatley."
According to McFarland, there may be other documented wells in or outside of Wheatley that contributed to the natural gas in the shallow bedrock as a result of the region's history.
He said additional work outside of the scope of the current investigation would be needed to try and locate other existing wells.
Theresa Watson, an oil and gas consultant hired by the municipality, said operations to date have not significantly impacted the gas present aside from mitigating any uncontrollable flow.
A deep thermogenic gas is still present in the shallow aquifer, according to Watson.
"The original source of the gas was most likely not the Tait well located in the municipal parking lot," said Watson. "Unfortunately, if another well is not located in close proximity and found to be the main pathway of the source of the gas, finding and shutting off the pathway to the impacted area will likely not be possible."
Watson suggested maintaining the current evacuation zone until testing is completed, as well as removing the Nail Salon and Car Barn buildings to see if there are any additional wells.
The municipality plans to continue supporting the testing phase until a long-term solution is determined, assisting property owners on the west side of Erie Street who are working with the Chief Building Official and work with parents to develop plans for addressing the recommendations suggested Wednesday night.