Nuclear false alarm was due to human error, investigation finds

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TORONTO — An investigation into a false alarm about a nuclear incident at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station has found it was the result of human error.

A report today from the chief of Emergency Management Ontario blames communications failures, procedural gaps and a lack of training for why it took 108 minutes to give an all clear.

The alert about an incident at Pickering was pushed to cellphones, radios and TVs across the province on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 12.

The emergency notification warned of an unspecified incident, but said there was no abnormal release of radioactivity and people nearby didn’t need to take protective actions.

The report says the duty officer at the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre mistakenly thought they had logged out of the live system and into the training system to send a test alert.

The officer immediately realized the error and asked supervisors how to fix it, but they were uncertain about whether or how to send a corrective alert.