Oops! Canadian nuclear power plant ‘incident’ alert turns out to be ‘error’ after ‘Chernobyl’ Twitter panic
It was 7:24am Sunday when Ontario residents received a chilling alert about an “incident” at one of the world’s oldest nuclear power stations located a few kilometers away from Canada’s most populous city of Toronto.
Pickering power plant, located on the shore of Lake Ontario, sent out an alert stating that emergency staff are responding to an incident at the facility, although “there has been no abnormal release of radioactivity from the station.” It also said that locals do not need to evacuate or take any other protective measures.
I was just awoken by my phone blaring an emergency alarm. There's been an incident at Pickering Nuclear Power Generating Station but there has been no release of radioactive material and no need to evacuate...So all of Ontario, Canada is awake RIGHT NOW, FYI...— Ashley: Fujoshi Princess (@AshleyUncia) January 12, 2020
Still, scarce information about the nature of the supposed incident apparently did not reassure residents and the alert certainly got under the skin of quite a few people. They, in turn, soon sent Twitter into meltdown as hundreds of people turned to social media to voice their fears and skepticism about whether the situation was really safe.
All of southern Ontario just received a ‘no radioactive material has been released, everything is fine’ alert from the Pickering nuclear power station. Are you sure this is fine??— Matt Dalzell (@britdjmatt) January 12, 2020
What's up with the Pickering nuclear power station accident. Just got an emergency alert about an accident. No meed to evacuate. Yet?— Shawn Smyth (@retchman) January 12, 2020
I’ve always been super skeptical of the nuclear power station in Pickering— Gianni Ace (@MySunnyShadow) January 12, 2020
The panic on Twitter soon reached such proportions that #Chernobyl started trending in a matter of minutes.
#Chernobyl happening again?”The nearby city of Pripyat was not immediately evacuated.The townspeople,in the early hours of the morning, went about their usual business, completely oblivious to what had just happened”a few hours of the explosion, dozens of people fell ill.— TheOrangeCaramel (@Elli_RioToronto) January 12, 2020
Mistakes and nuclear power plants are not a good fit. Especially next to such a large population and one of the most important bodies of fresh water in the world. Time for a rethink.#Pickering#ClimateChange#Chernobyl— Jim Panou (@jpanimages) January 12, 2020
However, it quickly turned out that the alarm was in fact false and there was no incident at the station, so the alert was called off. It seems that not everyone was convinced though that there was no reason to remain alert.
I wouldn't believe #pickering if they say the alert was a mistake this could mean there is an ongoing problem or there was a near catastrophic miss. Nuclear industry in #Fukushima and #Chernobyl underplayed severity of accident at every step. Wind is blowing west right now.— Zach Ruiter 🌎☮️ (@EnviroZach) January 12, 2020
Others criticized Pickering power plant for issuing a false alert and sarcastically joked about the station’s staff not being particularly good at their jobs.
Can I get a job at Pickering Nuclear Power station? I know nothing about nuclear power or how to run a facilty. Doesn't seem like anyone else does either.— Mike Warland (@MikeWarland) January 12, 2020
Commissioned back in the early 1970s, Pickering Nuclear Generating Station is the third-largest such facility in Canada. Located on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, it currently has six operating reactors and generates about 15 percent of the province’s power.
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