Amherstburg Deputy Fire Chief Lee Tome, Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, and Amherstburg Fire Chief Bruce Montone speak during a press conference at Queen's Park, December 12, 2017. (Photo courtesy of the NDP)

MPP Demands Government Support For Towns Near U.S. Nuclear Plants

The MPP for Essex is demanding that the provincial government step up to improve public safety in Amherstburg, in case of a disaster at a nearby nuclear plant in the U.S.

MPP and NDP Community Safety critic Taras Natyshak stood up at Queen’s Park on Wednesday to reaffirm a request for Ontario’s help in financing a stronger nuclear emergency response plan for towns like Amherstburg.  The town is within around 16 km to the Fermi II plant, which is across the Detroit River in Michigan.

“The province has been aware since November 2015 that, in the event of a nuclear accident at the Fermi 2 facility, the town of Amherstburg does not have the equipment, the personnel, the expertise or the capacity to appropriately respond to such an event,” Natyshak said.  “When will the Liberal government provide the same level of support to the town of Amherstburg as it does for other designated municipal areas that receive assistance in Ontario?”

In the event of a nuclear incident at Fermi, the town is responsible for providing a response.

“I cannot provide my residents with the level of direction and assistance, as a result of our planning, as other municipalities with a similar threat. I cannot afford my staff the same level of safety as other municipalities,” said Amherstburg Fire Chief Bruce Montone during a news conference. “That’s just wrong.”

An updated plan the town is requesting, which was presented to Amherstburg town council on back in May, would reduce the primary emergency zone from the current 23 km to the standard 16 km. The plan would also ensure distribution of the K-I pill, which is a potassium iodide tablet taken to reduce or prevent the effects of radioactivity.

Montone said he’s heartened that Minister of Community Safety Marie-France Lalonde approached Amherstburg representatives following Natyshak’s statements on Wednesday, to discuss the possibility of setting up a meeting in the near future.

“I was encouraged by her commitment to have her office try and set something up so that we can, in a very direct way, have a very fruitful discussion, so that our that our residents and my workers are appropriately protected,” he said.

The City of Windsor, Essex County and Town of Amherstburg have all passed motions calling for stronger nuclear emergency response.

-With files from Paul Pedro