False alarm scares millions of Canadians, investigation underway

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False alarm
The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station is one of the largest plants in the world. Via @OPG

Canadians hoping to catch up on some sleep over the weekend were rudely awakened by the sound of the cellphones as the province sent an alert. As it turned out, it was a false alarm. Now, an investigation is underway to find out what happened.




WAKING UP AT 7:24AM TO A FALSE ALARM

An alert was issued at 7:24am EST through the Province of Ontario’s Alert Ready Emergency Alert System. The alert read:

“EMERGENCY ALERT / ALERTE D’URGENCE

This is a Province of Ontario emergency bulletin which applies to people within ten (10) kilometres of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. An incident was reported at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station. There has been NO abnormal release of radioactivity fro the station and emergency staff are responding to the situation. People near the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station DO NOT need to take any protective actions at this time. Remain tuned to local media for further information and instructions.”

Now we don’t know about you, but that wasn’t exactly a message we wanted to see on our phones so early in the morning.

As it turned out, it was a false alarm. Only we didn’t know it was a false alarm until almost two hours later.




FALSE ALARM, NO DANGER TO THE PUBLIC

The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station’s operator, Ontario Power Generator, later sent a tweet that said:

“Important update: the alert regarding Pickering Nuclear was sent in error. There is no danger to the public or environment.”

Suffice it to say, Canadians were NOT pleased.

Thoughts of Chernobyl ran through the minds of many people who woke up to the alert, as did memories of the false alarm that caused a panic in Hawaii in 2018.




WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO IN CASE OF A REAL EMERGENCY

The City of Pickering has information on its website on steps you can take if there was a real nuclear emergency

Potassium Iodide pills are useful in reducing the thyroid gland’s absorption of radioiodine, in the event of a nuclear emergency.

Most of the long time residents were not overly worried, saying that there wasn’t too much they could do about it anyway.




MAYOR CALLS FOR AN INVESTIGATION

The City of Pickering’s mayor, Dave Ryan, has called for a full investigation on the false alarm.

Ryan said on Twitter:

“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.”

Ontario’s Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones released a statement after the false alarm:

“There was no incident at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station that should have triggered public notification. Nor was there ever any danger to the public or environment.”

The Pickering Nuclear Generating Station has been in operation since 1971 and was supposed to be shut down this year.

The Government of Canada has committed to keep the plant operational until 2024, and will be decommissioned starting in 2028.

The plant provides 14% of the province’s electricity, and employs 4,500 Canadians across the province. It is one of the largest nuclear generating stations in the world.




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