Town’s nuclear plan gets assist from Enbridge

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s nuclear plan is being updated and a grant from Enbridge will help in case that plan has to go into effect.

Enbridge gave a $3,500 cheque to the Amherstburg Fire Department Wednesday afternoon as part of the company’s “Safe Community Program.” The program sees grants awarded to local first responders to purchase safety equipment, obtain professional training or deliver educational programs that help save lives.

“They are an excellent corporate partner,” fire chief Al Reaume said of Enbridge.

The $3,500 grant will specifically be used to purchase dosimeters, devices that measure radiation. Reaume said that an ideal reading is zero but if that number starts to rise, it means a person is absorbing radiation.

There will be one dosimeter purchased for each of the Amherstburg Fire Department’s nine vehicles.

“It’s a start,” said Reaume. “Ideally, we’d like to have one for every firefighter. That will happen over time as a budget item.”

Reaume said the existing nuclear plan features outdated contact information with some of the people listed having since retired. There are other issues with it as well.

Enbridge gave a $3,500 grant to the Amherstburg Fire Department as part of Enbridge's "Safe Community Program." The cheque was presented Aug. 17 and it will be used to purchase dosimeters to help keep firefighters safe in case of a nuclear event. The fire department is currently updating its nuclear plan. From left: assistant deputy fire chief Ron Meloche, fire chief Al Reaume, Enbridge general manager Ian MacRobbie and Enbridge senior community engagement advisor Suzanne Shea.

Enbridge gave a $3,500 grant to the Amherstburg Fire Department as part of Enbridge’s “Safe Community Program.” The cheque was presented Aug. 17 and it will be used to purchase dosimeters to help keep firefighters safe in case of a nuclear event. The fire department is currently updating its nuclear plan. From left: assistant deputy fire chief Ron Meloche, fire chief Al Reaume, Enbridge general manager Ian MacRobbie and Enbridge senior community engagement advisor Suzanne Shea.

“It was contradictory in many areas,” said Reaume, noting there are references to a 16-kilometre evacuation zone and a 23-kilometre evacuation zone.

“It’s a matter of updating it and working with the province,” he said.

While there is a cost to updating the plan, Reaume said the department believes that should be covered by others.

“We feel Amherstburg should not have to absorb any of the costs,” he said.

That funding should come from the province or the Fermi II nuclear plant in Michigan or both. Meetings have already been held with the province with another meeting to be set up with Fermi II officials.

“Fermi has been extremely co-operative,” said Reaume.

Part of the plan also involved medicine known as “KI pills” which is potassium iodide that assists in blocking radiation from being absorbed by the thyroid gland. If it was pre-distributed in case of a nuclear emergency, it would involve only about 300 homes within a 16-kilometre primary area, Reaume said.

Plans are still be formulated for how to deal with the area outside of the 16-kilometre zone.

The entire plan is being modeled after other municipalities in Ontario with similar plans, as Reaume indicated there is “no need to re-invent the wheel.”

Despite the planning, Reaume said he doesn’t want to alarm the public, noting there have been no incidents in the past.

“It’s just a precaution,” said Reaume. “Nothing has ever happened to date. This is just a precautionary measure. We are just doing our due diligence.”

The town did a tabletop emergency exercise in the spring and Reaume said a full exercise is planned for next year. He noted LaSalle and Essex would be impacted by a nuclear event as well and have been asking for an exercise for several years “so we’re going to” have one.

Ian MacRobbie, general manager with Enbridge, said “Safe Community Program” is designed for just that, to keep communities safe. He said similar grants have been made in previous years for such things as gear, boots and pagers.

“We have a great relationship with (the Amherstburg Fire Department),” said MacRobbie.

Describing working with the fire department as “a wonderful fit,” MacRobbie said that Enbridge is happy to continue that partnership. He added that the company, which operates the Amherstburg Solar Farm locally, has sponsored the Roots to Boots Festival in 2012, the Sails to See Festival in 2013 and is an ongoing sponsor of the River Lights Winter Festival.

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