The presence of the highly flammable gas, methane, is believed to have caused the bizarre eruption earlier this month at a partly completed water well at Grove New Scheme, East Bank Demerara.
But a Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) official who made the disclosure said that the entity has no authority to order the owner or residents to move from the area. Manager of the GGMC’s Petroleum Division, Newell Dennison, told Kaieteur News yesterday that some of the gas was extracted and lit.
Two other samples have been extracted from the site but these have still not been sent overseas to be analyzed, he said.
“We know it’s a gas; we suspect what kind of gas it is…it is a flammable gas, but we do not have the authority to order him to move,” Dennison added, when asked about the potential danger to the owner of the property where the well was being installed.
Kaieteur News understands that officials from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had indicated that they would visit the area.
However, Dennison said that the GGMC has “a geological and scientific interest in the incident,” since the entity has been looking for petroleum deposits along the coast. “We heard of this occurrence and we jumped to see what it could be. Out of caution, on discovering that it was flammable, we suggested that it (the site) be cordoned.”
While methane is not a toxic gas, it is highly flammable and can form explosive mixtures with air.
The odourless gas can also cause suffocation by reducing the concentration of oxygen inhaled.
GGMC officials had ordered the owner to cordon off the site as a precautionary measure.
Chaos broke out earlier this month after the well began to spew mud and water over 40 feet into the air.
The yard where the well was being installed was inundated with several feet of muddy water.
Officials from the Hydrometeorlogical Service stated that under the Water and Sewerage Act of 2002, a Drilling Permit and licence to extract water must be obtained from the Hydrometeorological Service, Ministry of Agriculture before the construction, modification or abandonment of any well.
Before drilling, persons have to apply and provide documentation showing that the Guyana Water Inc is unable to supply the water for which the well is being drilled.
Officials warned that persons who do not comply with regulations can be fined up to $90,000 and jailed for one year.
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