FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 20, 2023
QUEEN’S PARK – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Bobbi Ann Brady warned of the consequences of inaction while asking a question about uncapped legacy gas wells in Haldimand-Norfolk and Southwestern Ontario.
“In Norfolk County alone there are 2,634 dormant wells — one of which has been in the news for years,” Brady said during Question Period. “The county lacks the expertise to remedy the well and little help is available to monitor the situation. Speaker, one more problem well could financially destroy the municipality.”
These wells are found across Haldimand and Norfolk and often landowners don’t know they are there until there is a problem. According to long-standing government policy, the landowner is responsible for gas wells on their property.
Brady also talked about the explosion of a legacy well in Wheatley in 2021 that levelled a building and sent seven people to hospital.
“We know in Wheatley the issue was acute with an explosion and experts predict it’s just a matter of time until another explosion occurs — the next time there could be loss of life,” she said. “This is a legacy problem, but it’s reached a breaking point. Southwestern Ontario is literally a powder keg ready to blow. Where will it be? Chatham-Kent, Lambton, Elgin, Norfolk or Elgin?”
The minister answered that his ministry asked the federal government about this in 2020 and 2022 but there were no federal dollars like in other jurisdictions.
In her supplementary question, Brady emphasized she is not talking about the still-operating small natural gas wells used by farmers.
“The latter group are not a problem, but yet they received a letter stating there will be no extension to any well licensed under the private natural gas policy after September 2032,” she said. “Speaker, I hope the ministry can find a more positive way forward for my farmers and families, especially in Haldimand County who rely on these wells, and at the same time, take action on the problematic legacy wells.”
Brady pointed to a recent McGill University Study on abandoned gas wells, which included Norfolk County, and concluded methane levels from leaking wells had been underestimated. Methane is a greenhouse gas, and hydrogen sulfide, which causes the rotten egg smell associated with leaking wells, is toxic.
“This problem is bigger than the Province of Ontario,” Brady said. “The federal government provided money to plug oil wells in western Canada, but none to Ontario. Speaker, I’m asking if this government will put pressure on the federal government to ward off a pending environmental and catastrophic disaster?”
Graydon assured the government will continue to ask the federal government for support.
Interviewed later, Brady said, “I’m glad the government is going to continue to pressure the federal government, but it’s time to turn up the heat. We need action sooner than later.”
For more information, contact MPP Bobbi Ann Brady at [email protected] or 519-428-0446 or 1-800-903-8629
YouTube link: https://youtu.be/TOrhG5Wj1AQ