Simcoe, ON, July 11, 2019 – Norfolk County is taking action on an ongoing public health issue by implementing a plan that will mitigate leaking hydrogen sulphide from an abandoned gas well on Forestry Farm Road.
Researchers from the University of Waterloo have found evidence that the well likely started leaking as a result of the plugging of another area well by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in 2015.
The plugging likely caused what the researchers are calling a “whack-a-mole” effect, in which underground pressure causes other wells – such as the one on Forestry Farm Road – to leak.
The plan – developed by scientists from the University of Waterloo and engineering consultants Elm Inc. – includes the installation of a monitoring instrument, a relief well and a water treatment system on County land in the area of McDowell Road East and Forestry Farm Road.
It will also give the researchers an opportunity to gather data and study the area’s hydrogeology.
The plan is contingent on the approval and co-operation of numerous government agencies, but Mayor Kristal Chopp says that’s no reason to sit back and wait while residents suffer.
“Because of the overwhelming public health concerns caused by this leaking well, Council has supported moving forward with this plan immediately,” she says. “However, we demand that the Province make things right and fully fund these remediation efforts, which are only necessary because of their previous plugging of abandoned wells.”
The protection of the health and safety of the public remains Norfolk County’s top priority, however little research into the effects of long-term exposure to hydrogen sulphide exists.
Hydrogen sulphide occurs naturally, in areas such as wetlands and sulfur springs. Exposure to low concentrations may irritate the eyes, nose and throat and cause headaches and other health issues. Please contact your medical provider if you are experiencing symptoms.
If you notice a rotten egg scent near your home and suspect hydrogen sulphide, contact the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks’ Spills Action Centre at 416-325-3000, 1-800-268-6060 (toll-free), or 1-855-889-5775 (TYY).