Ontario residents are demanding answers after the Ontario Power Generation says an emergency alert issued Sunday morning was sent “in error.”
The emergency bulletin, which was sent shortly after 7:20 a.m., said there was an “incident” at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station and that the alert applied to people within 10 kilometres of the plant.
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
A short time later, OPG announced that the alert was a false alarm. Since then, many people have taken to social media looking for answers on how the mistake happened.
Sylvia Jones, Ontario’s solicitor general, said a “full investigation” has been launched to determine how the error happened and that the alert was issued during a “routine training exercise” being conducted by the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre.
“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 and environment,” Jones said in a statement.
“Emergency exercises are a critical component of ensuring preparedness for emergency management and response agencies. The PEOC conducts training exercises regulary and there was no intention to notify the public in this instance.”
Please see my statement in response to the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station emergency alert. 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. pic.twitter.com/F9dnQCCWgD
— Sylvia Jones (@SylviaJonesMPP) January 12, 2020
Pickering Mayor Dave Ryan said on Twitter that he was “very troubled” to receive the alert Sunday morning and that he’s demanding a full investigation take place.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he would join Ryan in calling for an investigation.
“There are far too many unanswered questions,” Tory 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.
— Mayor Dave Ryan (@mayordaveryan) 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
Durham MP Erin O’Toole said there are “serious problems” with the emergency alert system and its protocols.
“There should be an immediate review of the system and I will push for that,” O’Toole said on Twitter.
Pickering-Uxbridge MP Jennifer O’Connell said the “lack of clarity & info to the public is unacceptable.”
“In the event of an actual emergency we deserve clear and timely information!” the MP said on Twitter.
The Emergency Alert system is fairly new & leverages technology to inform the public quickly, but obviously there are some serious problems with the system and its protocols. There should be an immediate review of the system and I will push for that.
— Erin O'Toole (@ErinOTooleMP) January 12, 2020
I am relieved there was no emergency this morning, but how a mistake like this could happen needs to be investigated. The lack of clarity & info to the public is unacceptable. In the event of an actual emergency we deserve clear and timely information! https://t.co/XjrpSM9vy3
— Jennifer O'Connell (@JenOConnell_) January 12, 2020
Peter Tabuns, the Ontario NDP energy critic, echoed others’ sentiments.
“We are deeply troubled that families were unnecessarily given reason to worry about their safety this morning,” Tabuns said in a statement.
“We need a full and transparent investigation into how a false alarm was triggered, and how all breakdowns in communication occurred. Confidence in the accuracy of the system is essential for public safety.”
Meanwhile, other Ontario residents are also looking for answers, many of which woke up terrified Sunday morning.
The alert about @opg Pickering Nuclear this morning was a false alarm. Much of our Scarborough-Rouge Park lives within 10km of the power plant. It’s important we find out how this mistake happened. #ScarbTO #TOpoli #ONpoli 1/2
— Jennifer McKelvie (@McKelvieWard25) January 12, 2020
— Heather Small 📙 🖋 (@bigsmallfamily) January 12, 2020
Do most people keep iodine pills on hand? Is this something i have to buy now? #pickering
— dishonour on your cow (@ohnoisaidit) January 12, 2020
— Sharon C-K (@SLiCKSolutions3) January 12, 2020
Soooo how does one accidentally send out an emergency alert for the nuclear plant? #pickering
— Maggie Wong 黃業童 (@mmaggiewongg) January 12, 2020
— chelle (@chelleatlarge) January 12, 2020
I would like answers on how this Amber Alert was an error message? This isn't just slip of a button. This has to go through many approvals before it gets broadcasted. I call BS, something did happen at the Pickering Nuclear Plant.#pickering
— Gord Mackay (@TheRealGMackay) January 12, 2020
— Courtney Langstaff (@courtlangstaff) January 12, 2020
• It took TWO HOURS before another #alert was sent to my mobile.
“nothing to see here. It was a mistake”
This is from weather app: pic.twitter.com/JP9NqVL16k
— Wear masks! (@Calais2Calais) January 12, 2020
— Briony Douglas (@brionydouglas_) January 12, 2020
— Simon Tome (@simon_tome) January 12, 2020
In a statement issued on Sunday, Ontario Power Generation chief nuclear officer Sean Granville confirmed the alert was sent during a routine exercise and that the plant was “operating as designed.”
“There is no safety incident and there is no danger to the public,” OPG said in a statement.
“The emergency alert was triggered in error.”
@opg security tells @globalnewsto they have no communications staff in today to speak on the phone. All media requests need to go through e-mail. They might want to think about bringing someone in— just a thought! #Onpoli
— Travis Dhanraj (@Travisdhanraj) January 12, 2020
— With files from Nick Westoll
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