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Ontario invests $23.6M into province-wide strategy addressing abandoned oil and gas wells

A portion of Erie Street North is closed as demolition of the Adamson Guardian Pharmacy near the explosion site in Wheatley, Ont. on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. (Sijia Liu/CTV News Windsor) A portion of Erie Street North is closed as demolition of the Adamson Guardian Pharmacy near the explosion site in Wheatley, Ont. on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. (Sijia Liu/CTV News Windsor)

Chatham-Kent is getting $2.5 million from the province as part of a $23.6 million investment to address risks posed by abandoned oil and gas wells.

The Ontario government announced the funding Friday to develop a province-wide strategy that includes identifying and plugging old oil and gas wells. Chatham’s funding is to help assist with emergency management costs from the 2021 explosion in downtown Wheatley.

“We are continuing to listen to our residents and local leaders to ensure our government’s plan addresses the needs of communities across Ontario, including Chatham-Kent,” Trevor Jones, MPP for Chatham-Kent-Leamington, said in a news release. “This funding will help municipalities address the risks posed by old oil and gas wells and help keep communities safe.”

To date, the province has invested $25 million to support the investigation, recovery and monitoring activities in Chatham-Kent as well as support businesses and residents evacuated.

According to the province, the $23.6 million will be used to develop an “oil and has action plan” to address the risks of old wells and conduct research to better understand the risks they pose.

The funding includes:

  • $7.5 million over three years to directly support municipalities in their efforts to reduce risks and enhance emergency preparedness within their communities. Eligible municipalities will be invited to apply for funding for these activities in the coming weeks.
  • Doubling of the existing Abandoned Works Program over three years to $6 million to support the plugging of old oil and gas wells.
  • $2.5 million will go directly to the Municipality of Chatham-Kent to help with ongoing emergency management costs associated with the Wheatley explosion.

“This investment represents the first step in our government’s action plan to address the challenges and risks old oil and gas wells pose to communities across Ontario,” Graydon Smith, minister of natural resources and forestry, said in a news release. “With this funding, Chatham-Kent and other affected municipalities will be able to help keep their communities safe and prevent petroleum-related emergencies in the future.”

The province says the action plan will be guided by ongoing engagement and feedback from industry, municipalities, Indigenous partners, other key stakeholders, and the public. Top Stories

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