At about 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2, the Town of St. Marys was notified by the owner of a commercial property on James Street North about a possible methane leak.
According to a news release issued by the Town later that evening, immediately following an emergency meeting of Town Council, Union Gas was contacted after the property owner called. The utility company crew "determined that there were no natural gas leaks (from the company's infrastructure) in the area, and that all readings were well below hazardous levels."
Speaking following the emergency meeting, Town of St. Marys CAO Brent Kittmer said the property owner smelled what seemed like methane, as well as saw bubbles coming from cracks in the parking lot of the property.
"The Town of St. Marys has been in regular contact with other provincial organizations to ensure the scene is safe for local residents," explained the news release.
On three sides surrounding the property, located at 665 James Street North, are residential developments.
The news release continued that the Town's Public Works and Fire Departments "have been mobilized to continue monitoring the area to ensure that gas levels remain safe for residents. Ontario Clean Water Agency (the operator of the Town's drinking water and wastewater systems) has been contacted to test the local storm and sanitary collection systems to ensure that methane is not present."
It is not unknown in southwestern Ontario for methane to bubble out of the ground naturally. Kittmer says he was told by a representative of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources that weather can be a catalyst for such occurances.
The emergency meeting took place at approximately 8 p.m. on Tuesday, with Town Council suddenly adjourning a scheduled Committee of the Whole meeting to go into close session.
"The Town is in the process of contacting a third party company to monitor the area throughout the overnight hours," explained the document handed by Mayor Al Strathdee to reporters at the conclusion of the emergency session. Strathdee then read the document to fellow councillors.
"We want to reiterate that there is no cause for alarm," Strathdee read. "The Town will provide a further update if the situation changes."