Ground Water Canada

News Contamination Environment Water Issues
Initial attempts to install monitoring well near leaking, abandoned gas well in Norfolk County, Ont., unsuccessful


June 24, 2020
By Ground Water Canada

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Simcoe, Ont. – Initial attempts to remediate an abandoned gas well leaking hydrogen sulphide, located along Forestry Farm Road in rural Norfolk County, Ont., have not been successful.

Crews have been working since March to drill and install a monitoring well – to collect information on the area’s hydrology – near the leaking, abandoned well, but the area’s overcharged aquifer is forcing ground water to flow to the surface, hampering repeated efforts to drill the monitoring well, Norfolk County said in a news release.

The work was the first of a three-phase remediation plan developed by scientists from the University of Waterloo and engineering consultants Geofirma.

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Phase 2 would have involved using the data to design a relief well to control the flow of water to the surface. Phase 3 would have seen a water treatment plant designed to remove hydrogen sulphide from the ground water discharge.

The project, partially funded by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, has been paused while the County and Ministry consider their options.

The area is being secured with permanent fencing for public safety.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo theorize that the well likely started leaking as a result of the plugging of another area well 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 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,” the County said.

Hydrogen sulphide occurs naturally, in areas such as wetlands and sulphur springs. Exposure to low concentrations may irritate the eyes, nose and throat and cause headaches and other health issues. The County is asking residents who notice a rotten egg scent near their home and suspect hydrogen sulphide to contact the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks Spills Action Centre.