Human error confirmed cause of Pickering nuclear plant scare

Emergency Alert sent on January 12

Emergency Management Ontario wants to ensure residents are not unnecessarily spooked again by an alert sent out by accident, so it is making changes.

Millions of Ontarians received an alert on their smartphones on the morning of January 12 about an incident at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station.

It read, “there has been NO abnormal release of radioactivity from the station and emergency staff are responding to the situation. People near the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station DO NOT need to take any protective actions at this time.”

It took Ontario Power Generation nearly 45 minutes to send out a second alert reassuring the public.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones called for an investigation, and the probe is now complete.

The investigation confirmed the immediate cause was human error. However, it also uncovered several other issues.

Thursday, Emergency Management Ontario said it had improved staff training and made procedural changes for planning, operations, and communications.

“As I did on January 12, I unreservedly apologize for the alarm and anxiety caused to people across the province,” said Jones. “I am confident the actions taken to address gaps brought to light by this investigation will make Ontario’s emergency management system even stronger.”