Error or Something Else? New Jersey Residents Get False Emergency Nuclear Alert
Tens of thousands of New Jersey residents received a nuclear power plant emergency warning on Tuesday night. There was just one problem: there was no emergency, and the warning was sent out by mistake.
The warning was issued to television sets in Salem and Cumberland Counties. “A civil authority has issued A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT WARNING for the following counties/areas: Cumberland; Salem, NJ; at 8:54 PM on MAY 23, 2017. Effective until 9:54 PM,” it read.
Half an hour later, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management tweeted a correction. “There is NO emergency,” they stressed. “This message went out in error.”
— NJOEM (@ReadyNJ) May 24, 2017
The operator of the plant in question, PES&G, reiterated the state government’s assurances in an email. “There is NO emergency at our Hope Creek nuclear plant,” said PSEG spokesman Joe Delmar in an email. “We are conducting an emergency drill. Some of the drill scenario was mistaken for an actual emergency. We are working with the NJ Office of Emergency Management to correct this information. Again, there is NO emergency.”
“It seems one of the drill messages was put out there across the emergency broadcast system as a real event,” said Delmar in a phone interview with USA Today. The plant was conducting an exercise for a potential nuclear disaster, which the OEM mistook as an actual nuclear meltdown.
The OEM claims that it was flooded by calls after the mishap. They say they will take pains to avoid such mistakes in the future.
Salem/Hope Creek, the reactor in question, generates enough power for 3 million homes. This makes it America’s second-largest nuclear power facility.