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Province issues statement on January’s nuclear scare

Government says false Pickering nuclear alert caused by human error, “systemic issues"

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

“Systemic issues” led to the delay of proper updates regarding a false public alert regarding an incident at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station last month.

According to a report released by the Ford government, the public alert was sent out due to human error.

At around 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 12, the alert regarding an incident was sent out.
Hours later, another alert was sent out stating there was issue.

Sylvia Jones, Ontario’s Solicitor General, released a statement regarding the alert where she explained the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre performs tests twice daily of the public alerting system.

During one of these tests on Jan. 12, a mistake was made and instead of the alert being sent through the test system, it went through the live public alerting system.

According to Jones, while the mistake was human error, there were several systemic issues which also contributed to both the alert being sent out, and the delay in cancelling.

The systemic issues include a lack of knowledge by the employees who sent out the alert on how to cancel it.
According to the report’s findings, no clear instructions were given to the employees after the alert was sent.
The report notes the supervisors didn’t know how to send out a second alert to cancel the first.

Finally, after misinformation was spread, the involvement of senior officials became necessary and the alert was corrected,

“As I did on January 12th, I unreservedly apologize for the alarm and anxiety caused to people across the province and I want to assure the public that everything possible is being done to prevent a similar event in the future,” said Jones in the statement.

She added the Emergency Management Ontario has already taken precautions in certain key areas.

These include planning, procedures, operations, communications, and staff training.