Ontario government apologises for false alarm

13 January 2020

The Solicitor General of Ontario has apologised for the public alert issued in error by Ontario's Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) during a routine training exercise yesterday. An investigation will be held to find the cause of the error, which meant residents were notified that an incident had taken place at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station when none had. The false alert was sent about 7:25am local time and PEOC retracted it at about 9:11 am.

Pickering (Image: OPG)

PEOC, which is part of the Ministry of the Solicitor General, is responsible for coordinating the response of Ontario government to any kind of major emergency. The system undergoes twice-daily tests to ensure it is available and able to do this. It was during such a test that the alert was sent.

"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," Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said. "The government of Ontario sincerely apologises 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." She told the CP24 news channel, "This particular test ... instead of going through the test system, went through the live system."

Doug Brown, the chief of Emergency Management for Ontario, said the retraction had been sent out "as soon as possible" after the agency had verified the information with its partners. The delay between the alert and the retraction, as well as the factors that caused the alert to be distributed in error, would be covered by the investigation, he said. "If it was an error by one of our staff members, we really want to look into what additional protocols, what additional procedures can we put into place to make sure that the system is robust," he said.

Ontario Power Generation (OPG). the operator of the plant, confirmed there had been no incident at Pickering, which is home to six Candu reactors. OPG Chief Nuclear Officer Sean Granville said."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."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News