June 26th, 2019

Leaking wells under Hitch’n Post won’t be found until basement work complete

By Gillian Slade on October 24, 2018.

Work continues below ground at the site of the old Hitch'n Post Saloon, recently demolished on South Railway Street. Afterthe basement walls are buttressed and the empty space filled in with soil the Orphan Well Association will determine the location of the leaking gas wells.


Where, oh where, are those wells?

The above-ground portion of the Hitch’n Post Saloon building has been demolished, but work continues in the basement as does the search for leaking gas wells, the city says.

The city’s contractor is building “buttresses” in the basement of the old building at 210 S. Railway St., to provide additional support to the existing basement foundation, said Dave Curtis, property administrator, land and business support.

“The side walls (of the basement of the Hitch’n Post) will remain in place with the additional support from the buttresses,” said Curtis.

After that is complete the basement will be filled with gravel to street level.

The City of Medicine Hat and the Orphan Well Association formed an agreement last winter on this project in the interests of public health and safety. Once the demolition is complete, the OWA will install an enhanced soil gas management system to manage the methane associated with the old leaking gas well on site.

The gas well, estimated to have been drilled in the 1890s to supply gas for the kitchen of what was then the American Hotel, has not actually been located yet.

“Once the City has completed the work in the basement, OWA will search for the wells,” said Curtis. “At this point the thought is the wells are located somewhere in the rear of the building (part with no basement) but they have not been specifically located at this point.”

The OWA will co-ordinate finding the wells after the buttresses have been installed and the basement filled with gravel, said Curtis.

The OWA has developed a soil gas management system comprised of very shallow extraction/vertical wells in the ground around a building. These are connected with slotted pipes to a vacuum unit that collects the gas and removes it out of the soil. This means it will not enter into any of the adjacent buildings. OWA will manage the old gas well into the future.

Future use of the site will depend on what utility rights of way will be required around the abandoned well. The city and OWA are splitting the associated costs equally, with the city footing about $460,000.

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