Toxic well capped near Langton

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

The first step in controlling a toxic gas leak in Silver Hill has been deemed a success.

 Last week, a contractor hired by the province set to work plugging an old natural gas well on North Walsingham Road 10 that was emitting high levels of hydrogen sulphide gas.

Tuesday afternoon, Norfolk County reported that the capping effort was an apparent success. As a result, three of six households under evacuation orders have been allowed to return.

The Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry declared the capping effort complete on Sunday.

“Officials monitored readings near the well for 48 hours after compliance,” Norfolk County said in a news release.

“Today, the Medical Officer of Health (Dr. Malcolm Lock) reviewed the readings in a 400-metre radius around (the well) and will allow three residences to return home.”

A section of North Walsingham Road 10 measuring about 800 metres was barricaded last month after abnormally high levels of toxic gas were detected in the area. With one of the two offending wells capped, the exclusion zone has been reduced to about 400 metres.

A second well continues to emit abnormally high levels of hydrogen sulphide gas. As a result, three residences in the area remain under evacuation orders.

Norfolk County says the exclusion zone will remain in place until MNRF successfully caps the second well.

Hydrogen sulphide gas is a byproduct of natural gas production. It is toxic, corrosive, combustible and smells like rotten eggs.

The well that remains uncapped is located on the property of Ian and Kim Grant. The Grants reported in recent weeks that the foul smell of natural gas has been evident on their property off and on for the past two years.

Norfolk County took precautionary measures last month after the Grants brought the situation to the attention of the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit. The Grants began to worry about possible health effects after metal objects on their property began to discolour.

Norfolk Mayor Charlie Luke has shared the county’s concerns about gas wells in the Silver Hill area with MNRF, Premier Kathleen Wynne and local MPP Toby Barrett.

Anyone who believes they may have a toxic gas leak on their property is encouraged to contact the Ministry of the Environment’s Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060 or 1-416-325-3000.