Amherstburg Gains New Partners For Development of Nuclear Disaster Plan

Amherstburg is taking on some new partners in its attempt to garner more funding for its Nuclear Emergency Response Plan.

The town took the next step in developing the new plan by officially petitioning the province for the same financial support extended to areas of Ontario in close proximity to a reactor on provincial land.

Nuclear reactors in Ontario are responsible for funding emergency responders within range.

The province has no power to force an American company to fully fund a Canadian town, even if it could be in danger should the reactor meltdown.

The Canadian Environmental Law Association's Theresa McClenanghan and Shawn Patrick Stensil of Greenpeace Canada addressed town council, pledging their support for a new nuclear disaster plan.

McClenaghan says the area has fallen through the cracks in terms of safety.

"My understanding from meeting some of the citizens of Amherstburg is there were people involved when Fermi 2 was being constructed, and that the town officials had been involved, at that time," she says. "It's been many years since there's been very much attention paid to this area in terms of it's need for emergency planning."

McClenaghan told AM800 News it's not just about funding.

The issues with Amherstburg's plan can be seen across the province, and McClenaghan says the province needs to start hoping for the best, but planning for the worst.

"The Japanese regulators [Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant] told us in 2013 that part of the reason people suffered and even died was because they hadn't taken those accidents seriously enough," says McClenaghan "So that's what we're calling on the province to do, to make sure that we're prepared If that horrible day ever came so we actually have plans in place that could really help people avoid harm."

Amherstburg's location is the key reason it's been overlooked according to McClenaghan.

She says, even the basics, like potassium iodide or "KI" pills aren't funded because it's not a Canadian reactor, and that needs to change.

McClenaghan went on to say there is also a need to engage the community so they know what to do in the event of a disaster.

"The KI pill, which is important to children especially, there's nothing happening with those here, so that's totally behind," McClenaghan says.
"In terms of other issues, Amherstburg is currently behind because we don't have any current modeling, where there have been some attempts to do current modeling for the GTA [Greater Toronto Area]."

Deputy fire chief Lee Tome told AM800 News the town welcomes the help of both organizations.

He brought the initial steps towards updating the nuclear emergency plan to council last month.

Tome says he's been working on changes to the plan for more than a year and a half and there's been a learning curve.

"They bring a certain expertise to us and also have access to certain government officials that we don't," says Tome.

Currently the town receives just $25,000 from the Fermi 2 Nuclear Reactor in Michigan, which is much less than the actual cost of a proper disaster plan.

Nowhere near enough to pay for a proper response in the event of a nuclear emergency.