Experts create bi-national plan for chemical attack in Windsor, Detroit

A bi-national consortium is working on a plan should there be a chemical attack in Detroit or Windsor. Military from Canada and America, along with industry and academic members are part of the team working on the plan.

'I can honestly say we're training for Canada's, America's worst day,' says two-star general

Military and catastrophe experts will be out on the Detroit River, in steam tunnels and at the GM Renaissance Centre on Thursday, then go back to work to see if their plans need to be revised. (Tom Addison/CBC)

Military from Canada and America, along with academics and industry experts are in the Detroit and Windsor area to work on a collective plan should there be a chemical attack in the region. 

From Tuesday, Aug. 13 until Thursday, Aug. 15, experts are working on a detailed plan to see how different countries and different departments can come together.

The consortium has been tasked with developing a plan in the event that someone has detonated five nuclear devices on the Ambassador Bridge. 

"We're challenging the group to work together through the Canadian and American process of, how do you respond to such a massive disaster, emergency response, and safe watch," said Michael Stone, two-star general and commander of the 46th military police command.

There's a lot of synergy between Detroit and Windsor when it comes to cooperation on a local level, he said, but there could be more work to do federally.

"We've thrown all of this kind of complexity together and that's one of the purposes of this ... To bring in all the federal partners, so we get rid of the assumptions," Stone said. "It helps the locals identify gaps in their plans where they're going to need help."

What happens if there's a chemical attack on Detroit? Members of the American and Canadian military, along with the FBI, FEMA and other agencies and private sector businesses are figuring out just what to do if the worst happens this week. We hear from Col. Christopher McKinney, head of plans for the 46th Military Police Command. 6:27

As for those who aren't privy to the government's plans, Stone said the group has a communications expert going through how they would get information out to the public, using the 2010 earthquake in Haiti as an example.

"We're going to have to find every means to communicate that we can, because so many means of communication will be down and people will be starving ... for information," Stone said.

On the first day of the exercise, subject matter experts and PhD's discussed, in addition to Haiti, Tokyo, and Chernobyl, in an effort to get everyone to think differently.

In Dearborn, Mich., one room has been occupied military strategists, while another room has been devoted to medical personnel. Simultaneously in Windsor, emergency operations are working on the same issue.

After two days of working on the plans, they'll get out in the field, into steam tunnels in Detroit, out on the Detroit River and even to the top of the GM Renaissance Centre.

"I often say to my task force here in the United States, 'We're training for America's worst day.' But I can honestly say we're training for Canada's [and] America's worst day," said Stone.

Stone said members of the public can prepare for future emergencies by readying a family plan should there be an event in Detroit or Windsor.


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