Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bio #14 - Hazards of Natural Gas Wells


Alberta is famous for its gas wells (natural gas) and there used to be several in Medicine Hat that were still partly above ground. One of these was in Central Park, in the far right hand corner of the park, two blocks from our house. The children's paddling pool was in the same area, and this certain day I was in the water playing when this gas well blew its top. There was no fire, which was lucky, but the noise terrified all us kids and we ran home. Whatever was in that well besides gas I don't know, but we were all covered from head to toe with black specks like pepper. It took a bit of washing to get rid of it. 

On Crescent Heights, years later, one blew its top and caught fire. It was like a big roman candle and the noise was awful. It was days before it was put out.

Turner Valley Oilfield, Alberta, in the 1920s. Photo courtesy of Glenbow Archives
Turner Valley is south of Calgary and west of Medicine Hat, and it was the first large oilfield found in Alberta. This scene would have been similar to Medicine Hat at the time of my mother's writings. Now, one shudders at the thought of a gas well beside a children's playground. Alberta is a world producer of oil and natural gas.