The Canadian province of Ontario sent out an emergency alert reporting an “incident” at a nuclear plant “in error” on Sunday morning, sparking widespread confusion.
Several Ontario residents posted screenshots showing the “emergency alert” they received on their phones around 7:30 a.m. ET. The warning detailed “an incident” being reported at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, located in Pickering, Ontario, and said the alert applied to “people within 10 kilometers” of the facility. The warning stated that “there has been NO abnormal release of radioactivity from the station and emergency staff are responding to the situation.” It added the people near the plant “DO NOT need to take any protective actions at this time.”
Ontario Power Generation tweeted about an hour later that the alert was “sent in error” and there was “no danger to the public or environment.”
Important update: the alert regarding #Pickering Nuclear was sent in error. There is no danger to the public or environment.— Ontario Power Gen (@opg) January 12, 2020
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan said he was “very troubled” and “upset” upon receiving the emergency alert and demanded a “full investigation take place.”
Like many of you, I was very troubled to have received that emergency alert this morning. While I am relieved that there was no actual emergency, I am upset that an error such as this occurred. I have spoken to the Province, and am demanding that a full investigation take place.— Mayor Dave Ryan (@mayordaveryan) January 12, 2020
Ryan’s request for a full investigation was supported by Toronto Mayor John Tory who noted that many of Toronto’s residents, “especially those who live near Pickering – were unnecessarily alarmed by this alert.”
We’ve been advised there was no emergency at Pickering Nuclear this morning and the province-wide alert message was sent in error. I know many @CityOfToronto residents - especially those who live near Pickering - were unnecessarily alarmed by this alert.— John Tory (@JohnTory) January 12, 2020
I join Pickering @MayorDaveRyan in calling for a full investigation into why this error occurred because there are far too many unanswered questions.— John Tory (@JohnTory) January 12, 2020
The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station opened in 1971 and was supposed to be decommissioned this year but Ontario’s government pledged to keep the site functioning until 2024, the Associated Press reported.
This is not the first time things have gone awry at the plant. In 2011, a pump seal failure led to more than 19,200 gallons of demineralized water being spilled into Lake Ontario, according to the AP, which noted that local authorities had said there were no significant negative risks to public health. In 1994, the plant automatically shut down after a faulty valve caused the spillage of 132 tons of heavy water, according to the AP.