EPA, other agencies probing suspected natural gas blowout at Diamond

Aftermath: The back of the yard (foreground) where an unauthorised well that was being dug in Diamond Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara, erupted on Thursday, spewing water and mud, which covered the property, along with suspected methane. (Photo by Terrence Thompson)

A suspected underground methane explosion, which plastered two Diamond Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara buildings with mud and left water gushing on Thursday afternoon, is being investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Sixth Avenue in the scheme has since been cordoned off as a precautionary measure and up to press time yesterday water continued to flow from what was a makeshift well and gas has also been bubbling up.

In addition to the EPA, Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) and US oil company ExxonMobil have been called in to assist with monitoring and resolving the incident. 

A neighbour’s house, which was splattered with mud after the explosion, was being cleaned yesterday. (Photo by Terrence Thompson)

On Thursday, a well that was being dug by a resident of one of the affected houses exploded and spurted water, mud and methane gas continuously. It is believed that a pocket of methane gas exploded underground as a result of the drilling of the well.

Stabroek News was told that the resident drilled the well to a depth of 130 feet and was aiming to go a further 20 feet. It was also related that the man had no permission from the Hydrometeorological office, which is responsible for

evaluating water resources.

The Guyana Fire Service (GFS) was the first responder on Thursday night but was unsure of how to handle the situation. As a result, the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) was called in and organised a team consisting of representatives from the EPA, Massy Gas Products, ExxonMobil, GWI, the Guyana Police Force, the GFS, and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission to monitor and assess the situation.

A neighbour’s house, which was splattered with mud after the explosion, was being cleaned yesterday. (Photo by Terrence Thompson)

Executive Director of the EPA Kemraj Parsram confirmed that the team is monitoring the situation and conducting tests to verify the presence of methane and its specific concentration. He noted that preliminary tests have shown that there is no significant cause for concern.

However, he explained that residents living in close proximity to the area should take precautionary measures and ensure that ignition sources are kept at a safe distance until they decide on the next course of action.

The Guyana Power and Light Incorporated has disconnected the entire street from the electrical grid. The street has since been cordoned off and unauthorised persons are not allowed to go close to the yard.

The resident in whose yard the well exploded has not been available to the press.

Residents are also urged to visit the Diamond Diagnostic Centre or any medical institution for check-ups if they feel unwell. Long exposure to methane can result in headaches, feelings of nausea, dizziness and drowsiness. Persons can also experience symptoms of weakness, vomiting, and loss of coordination.

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