Marie-France Lalonde

Fire chief enthused after meeting minister regarding nuclear program



By Ron Giofu


The town’s fire chief and emergency management co-ordinator is pleased after leading a delegation to Queen’s Park last week to discuss Amherstburg’s nuclear plan.

Bruce Montone, deputy fire chief Lee Tome and town clerk Paula Parker travelled to Toronto last Wednesday evening to meet Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Marie-France Lalonde and Montone came away happy with the meeting.

“It was awesome,” Montone told the River Town Times last Friday. “She was attentive and kind. She challenged some of our issues and that gave us an opportunity to provide additional information, which she seemed to appreciate.”

Montone said he was encouraged by the meeting and the Amherstburg delegation was told that if they don’t hear anything from the province within three weeks, they can contact the minister’s office. He said the town wants to be on a level playing field as any other Ontario municipality that has a nuclear plant nearby.

“Our meeting focused on five specific areas,” said Montone. “The overarching message is that we want to be treat equitably.”

Funding was “at the top of the list” with discussions taking place on the types of assistance that could be available to the town. Montone added they spent “a great deal of time” discussing the roles and responsibilities the province and town will have under the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PNERP).

“There’s quite a lot of changes in who is responsible for what,” he said.

There will also be work on a new “concept of operations” with the province and they  also will be working with the Ontario government on a revised Fermi II implementation plan. The latter has not been updated since 2009, said Montone.

The Town of Amherstburg’s nuclear plan was the subject of a recent meeting with Minister Marie-France Lalonde.

Amherstburg’s public alerting system was also spoken about as enhancements are required, the fire chief added, and public education was also raised during the meeting in Toronto. The Ontario government will also enter into a new agreement with Fermi II, Montone stated.

“The province is going to undertake a new agreement between the State of Michigan, DTE (the owners of Fermi II) and the province,” said Montone. “We talked about how we can collaborate and be involved in the process.”

The word “collaboration” was emphasized by Montone on how the relationship with the Ontario government will be going forward.

“I’m really happy,” Montone said of the meeting. “We covered a lot of ground.”

The meeting had been scheduled for 45-60 minutes but lasted over two hours, he added, and Lalonde was “extremely patient” and gained “a robust understanding of all the challenges” that Amherstburg faces.

“I’m very comfortable when I tell you that the province and her ministry are going to work closely in the near future to get us where we need to be,” Montone stated. “I’m very, very optimistic going forward.”

While there could be movement to resolve some of Amherstburg’s outstanding issues, Montone cautioned that fixing them completely will take time.

“We can’t fix this overnight,” he said. “It’s been this way since 1998.”

While Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and CAO John Miceli were unable to join them for the meeting, Montone said the group that did go to Queen’s Park had their full support. He added there was a debriefing of the meeting with Miceli last Thursday.

Local nuclear plan discussed with province, more meetings to come



By Ron Giofu


Emergency officials in Amherstburg recently held a meeting with the province to discuss its nuclear plan with more questions arising from the meeting.

Bruce Montone, Amherstburg’s fire chief and emergency management co-ordinator, met with provincial officials recently to discuss the plan and how the Ontario government can support the municipality.

“It was a positive discussion,” said Montone. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time.”

The discussion centered mainly on the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PNERP) and the differences between the 2009 version and the new one.

“There’s still a lot of unanswered questions,” he said.

Montone indicated there are indications the province will take on monitoring and decontamination responsibilities in the event of an incident, but added there are still questions on how that would be rolled out.

“The challenge is how are they going to handle this,” said Montone.

There are concerns over the timeline of events should an incident happen, noting it could take upwards of 12 hours to get to Amherstburg. The support could be in the form of expertise and there are also questions on how it could be funded.

There are also challenges regarding public notification and alerts. The sirens will need improvements, Montone indicated.

“Our current system is quite old and requires upgrades,” he said.

Portions of the primary zone can’t hear the sirens, Montone added. Cost is also a factor as is who is going to fund it.

The Fermi II nuclear power plant gives $25,000 to support annual emergency planning efforts in Amherstburg. However, fire chief and community emergency planning co-ordinator Bruce Montone is calling for help from the provincial government.

The potassium iodide (KI) pills are another issue that has to be resolved, he stated. KI pills help prevent the development of thyroid cancer, and are effective at safeguarding children’s thyroid glands and Montone said those pills would be on the way soon. The plan is for all residents in the primary zone to get a KI pill with people in the secondary zone eligible to receive one upon request.

The town is working with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) on providing the pills to the town.

“The KI pills have been ordered. We expect them sometime in early March,” said Montone. “We’re working on how they are going to be distributed.”

The WECHU ordered the pills through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Montone said, and have a shelf life of ten years. Who pays for replacing them is another issue.

“Those kinds of logistics have to be worked out,” said Montone.

Fermi II, which has a different type of reactor than the Canadian nuclear plants, will be getting involved in the implementation planning including the Ministry of Transportation’s traffic plans. The latter plans also involve the town and neighbouring municipalities.

The January meeting was a good one, he suggested, but there is more work to come.

“My overall impression is positive but there are many more unanswered questions,” stated Montone.

There will be another meeting with Minister Marie-France Lalonde later this month, he added.

“We will continue to raise our issues with her,” said Montone.

The town’s plight for support of its nuclear emergency plan was also discussed last week as part of the TVO program “The Agenda.” The show is available through the network’s website at with the direct link being