FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 25, 2017
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett is still looking for answers after questioning the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry about natural gas well issues in Norfolk County.
A gas leak in the Silver Hill area in August resulted in six homes being evacuated in August, and then another 16 put on alert. Some residents were not allowed back in their homes for as long as four weeks due to high levels of hydrogen sulphide.
“Now, pressure built up over two years, with another well erupting this June on the Grants’ property, plus another well down the road after MNRF assured the Grants and my office that they would be monitoring the problem,” Barrett said in the Legislature during Question Period. “The Grants have suffered damage to their business, their property, possibly their health. Minister, why has it taken so long to act?”
The minister responded that her staff expedited providing advice to county staff to ensure the well was being capped.
“Finally, the wells have been capped, but the question is, what is the minister doing to ensure history does not repeat itself again,” Barrett asked in his supplementary question. “Again, what about these environmental impacts, possible health effects? Will you compensate Norfolk County? Importantly, for loss of business and damage to plant and equipment, health, why won’t you compensate Kim and Ian Grant?”
Again, Barrett felt the minister didn’t adequately answer his questions. He filed notice he was dissatisfied with the answer and as a result was granted additional time to ask further questions, to be scheduled later in the day.
For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 519-428-0446 or [email protected]
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
NATURAL GAS WELLS
Mr. Toby Barrett: To the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. Two years ago, I contacted your office and the petroleum division regarding a Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry natural gas relief well along Big Creek. Ian and Kim Grant from Silver Hill, here in the gallery today, were notified that this relief well was releasing hydrogen sulphide and toxic water into the creek and had to be capped.
Apparently, the well was capped in the 1960s, so the ramifications of this go back five decades. Now, pressure built up over two years, with another well erupting this June on the Grants’ property, plus another well down the road after MNRF assured the Grants and my office that they would be monitoring the problem.
The Grants have suffered damage to their business, their property, possibly their health. Minister, why has it taken so long to act?
Hon. Kathryn McGarry: Thank you to the member for the question. I want to start off by saying that public health and public safety re really our government’s and our ministry’s sole focus in this area. We know that there are abandoned wells along the shores of Lake Erie, for instance, and in the other areas, that need recapping.
I know the place that the member is talking about; we were notified early on. We expedited the process to ensure that ministry officials were there to provide advice to the municipality and ensure that the well was being capped. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry always can provide technical advice to support any municipality. We’ll be continuing to work with the municipal control group to assess the situation and determine the next steps.
We, again, want to assure the public that public safety is my ministry’s top priority.
—assess the situation. and determine the next steps. We again want to ensure the public that public safety is my ministry’s top priority.
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Thank you. Supplementary.
Mr. Toby Barrett: Back to the minister: It was two years going on five decades really with little action. In August, Norfolk county and Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit stepped in. They closed roads. They evacuated the Grants. They evacuated five other families in the area. Finally, the wells have been capped, but the question is, what is the minister doing to ensure history does not repeat itself again? Again, what about these environmental impacts, possible health effects? Will you compensate Norfolk county? Importantly, for loss of business and damage to plant and equipment, health. Why won’t you compensate Kim and Ian grant?
Hon. Kathryn McGarry: Again, thank you for the question. We continue to work with the municipality and local health units. But I understand how distressing it is for individuals to have to be either evacuated from their home or have impacts to their businesses or their homes because of that.
Recently, we continued to look at areas where there are potential wells that will need to be capped. In the coming months, my ministry will be reaching out to municipalities to discuss the planning and the emergency management scenarios related to petroleum hazards and risks. This is a multi-government approach, and we continue to provide technical advice in these situations. The education and outreach work will help to clarify roles and responsibilities to allow municipalities to plan ahead by better understanding the risks, so we will continue to provide that advice.