Inverhuron not adequately protected in municipal nuclear emergency plan, says resident

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News

By Barb McKay

An Inverhuron resident says the hamlet is inappropriately categorized in the municipality’s nuclear emergency response plan, which puts the community at a serious disadvantage if a nuclear accident were to occur.

Eugene Bourgeois addressed the Municipality of Kincardine council during its meeting last Wednesday and called on the municipality to re-categorize Inverhuron in its emergency plan by placing it in the ‘Contiguous Zone’ rather than the ‘Primary Zone’. Bourgeois said the contiguous zone is an area that demands the highest and most detailed level of emergency planning. Tiverton is in the primary zone, but because of Inverhuron’s close proximity to the Bruce Power site, he said, its residents are at greater risk if an accident were to occur.

From the time Ontario Hydro developed its Radiological Environmental Monitoring Programme (REMP), his farm, Bourgeois said, showed concentrations of radionuclides in his hay, produce and livestock.

“Until 2011 when Bruce Power stopped monitoring airborne tritium at the passive monitor on our farm, airborne tritium was higher here than anywhere else surveyed and an adult living at this site was considered to be the person at the highest risk of exposure,” he said.“Now that it no longer monitors for airborne tritium at this site Bruce Power can pretend that we are no longer exposed to the highest concentrations (of tritium).”

“The municipal nuclear emergency response plan is equally dismissive of the fact that Inverhuron suffers from the greatest concentrations of radioactivity, among other toxic pollutants, of any location, including those the plan identifies as being in the contiguous zone,” he added.“No grounds are given for this exclusion. If Inverhuron were in the contiguous zone, however, there are far more stringent planning requirements and perhaps it is for this reason that we are excluded.”

Bourgeois noted that the first response to a nuclear emergency is to take shelter in a place where air flow can be controlled. There are many cottages and trailers that would not be protected from nuclear airborne activity if an event were to occur.

Bourgeois said the Inverhuron and District Ratepayers Association (IDRA)is asking that Inverhuron be placed in the contiguous zone in the municipal emergency plan and that steps be taken to ensure protection of the hamlet.

The recommendations include: Protective shelters as identified in the plan must be built to protect these residents; baseline health data of its residents must be catalogued in order to facilitate emergency actions should they become necessary; consider with rigour the possibility that a nuclear emergency could occur; modify the FM Alert system so that it makes announcements only when there is or is likely to be a nuclear emergency; inform all residents immediately so that each can make the choices that are best for them; devise automated systems that perform detailed analytic procedures to identify the conditions when an emergency might or is likely to occur instead of relying on human judgment; and create an emergency response plan that will meet the goals the PNERP identifies as one which will meet international best practices and reduce the likelihood of stochastic events among residents.

Mayor Anne Eadie said Bruce Power and the Municipality of Kincardine have very robust emergency plans in place that are reviewed and tested annually.

“I do feel that the Municipality of Kincardine and other agencies involved do due diligence,” she said.

Nevertheless, Eadie asked that a staff report be brought back to council regarding the concerns raised by the IDRA.