Canadian Contractor

Robert Koci   

A pocketful of natural gas

Canadian Contractor Emergency Fire Professional

Calling before you dig doesn't cover everything

A recent article in the Toronto Star reported a geothermal heating system almost cost the lives of some Oakville residents. A contractor drilling a borehole for the installation of a vertical system struck a large volume of pressurized natural gas hundreds of feet beneath the earth. A few days later, about 100 meters away, a homeowner heard a bubbling noise coming from a sump pump hole. The local gas utility and town fire department arrived to find high levels of natural gas inside and outside the home.

Mayor Rob Burton is urging a suspension on deep well and borehole drilling. He and the town council have stated their concerns with the province’s Green Energy Act of 2009 – no licensed drillers or proper technicians required. “Under the act, a drilling company doesn’t need a permit to install a ground-source energy system; to consult with professional geoscientists and engineers; or have an emergency contingency plan or safety equipment on site” (excerpt taken from the Toronto Star). Best of all, the act doesn’t allow municipalities to pass any bylaws… so much for preventative measures.




Heidi Filici is a freelance writer based in Toronto and a part-time contributor to Canadian Contractor.


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