Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday January 14, 2019
Ontario government apologizes for alert about Pickering nuclear plant incident sent ‘in error’
Ontario’s solicitor general has apologized for an emergency message sent across the province early Sunday alerting residents about an incident at the Pickering nuclear generating station east of Toronto.
“The alert was issued in error to the public during a routine training exercise being conducted by the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre,” Sylvia Jones said in a statement on Sunday.
The alert system is tested twice daily to ensure it is ready in the event of an emergency, Jones told CBC News. In the course of that testing, she said, it appears someone mistakenly pushed the alert on a “live pathway” instead of a “test pathway.”
Who exactly is responsible for pushing out the alert, Jones said, is part of a larger investigation, which will be carried out by Emergency Management Ontario.
“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,” Jones added.”The government of Ontario sincerely apologizes for raising public concern and has begun a full investigation to determine how this error happened, and will take the appropriate steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
Later on Sunday, OPG Chief Nuclear Officer Sean Granville said in a statement: “OPG has a sophisticated and robust notification process in place that we would immediately follow in the unlikely event of an incident at the station.
“I want to assure the public that there was no incident at the station, and the plant is operating as designed.”
At 7:24 a.m. ET, the alert was issued provincewide, saying an incident was reported at the station. The alert also said it applied to residents living within 10 kilometres of the station.
“There has been NO abnormal release of radioactivity from the station and emergency staff are responding to the situation,” the alert read.
The alert said people near the station do not need to “take any protective actions at this time.”
In a tweet about 40 minutes later, Ontario Power Generation said the first alert was sent “in error.”
“There is no danger to the public or environment,” OPG said. (CBC)