Hutchinson — Evacuated residents of the Big Chief Mobile Home Park will be kept from their homes indefinitely because of the recent discovery of three old brine wells nearby, City Manager Joe Palacioz said.
The brine wells were discovered using 1938 aerial maps showing wells associated with a soda-ash plant that operated decades ago just north of the mobile home park.
Although no gas has been detected in the mobile home park for more than a week, Palacioz said Wednesday the discovery of the brine wells creates an unresolved issue about the safety of the area.
"We need to go in and cap those old brine wells because we don't know what the past has been out there," Palacioz said.
He said it isn't known whether more wells exist and no new timetable has been set to allow evacuees back into their homes.
Steve Johnson, spokesman for Kansas Gas Service, acknowledged a concern about the brine wells and wells that have yet to be discovered.
"We want to install a vent system for the brine wells we found," Johnson said, referring to three main gas-brine geysers that erupted Jan. 17, killing two people who lived at the mobile home park and forcing many more to be evacuated.
Johnson said once that is done, the mobile home will be turned over to its owner.