Unplanned Events

Pickering / Ontario Begins Investigation After Emergency Alert Sent In Error

By David Dalton
13 January 2020

There was no intention to notify public, says Ontario’s solicitor-general
Ontario Begins Investigation After Emergency Alert Sent In Error
The Pickering nuclear power station in Canada.
An investigation has begun after an emergency alert saying there was an incident at the Pickering nuclear power station in Ontario was issued in error to the public on Sunday during a routine training exercise, the province’s government has said.

Sylvia Jones, Ontario’s solicitor-general, said in a statement there was no incident at the station that should have triggered public notification. Nor was there ever any danger to the public or environment.

She said: “Earlier today [Sunday 12 January], an emergency alert was issued by the Province of Ontario stating there was a situation at the Pickering nuclear generating station. The alert was issued in error to the public during a routine training exercise being conducted by the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC).”

The statement said emergency exercises are a critical component of ensuring preparedness for emergency management and response agencies. The PEOC conducts training exercises regularly and there was no intention to notify the public in this instance.

“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."

The country’s nuclear regulator, CNSC, said it was aware of the alert and confirmed it was sent in error.

“CNSC confirms there is no radiological event at the nuclear facility. Pickering nuclear generating station continues to operate safely,” a statement said.

“CNSC staff are monitoring and are in contact with the provincial emergency operations centre and Ontario Power Generation.”

Press reports said that more than half an hour after people received mobile alerts about a supposed incident at Pickering, station owner and operator OPG tweeted that there was no emergency and the warning was a mistake.

OPG chief nuclear officer Sean Granville said the company 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.”

OPG, which is owned by the government of Ontario, is the largest electricity generator in the province. The company owns and operates the and Darlington nuclear stations, which have 10 nuclear units between them. OPG also owns the eight-unit Bruce nuclear station in western Ontario which is leased to and operated by Bruce Power.

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