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NDP Energy Critic calls for probe into nuclear plant alert, says public losing trust in system

Last Updated Jan 13, 2020 at 1:45 pm EDT

NDP Energy Critic Peter Tabuns is calling for a full and independent probe into the erroneous emergency alert that vaguely warned of an ‘incident’ at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, saying failure to do so will further erode the public’s already waning trust in the system.

“There needs to be independence so people don’t just think … it’s the Ford government looking after itself,” Tabuns said Monday at Queen’s Park. “We need to know what precisely happened and what system failures there were that allowed it to happen.”

“If people lose confidence in this system, the ability to use it when there is a real emergency will be impaired. That’s dangerous,” he warned.

Tabuns not only wants clarity on how and why the province-wide alert was sent, but he’s seeking answers on why it took two hours for a follow up alert to be sent clarifying that the first alert was an error.

“What we haven’t heard is an explanation of why it took two hours to let people know that in fact there was not a crisis. That’s a long time for people to be waiting … we need a full investigation of the initial error, and we need a full investigation of why it took two hours to let the public know what was going on.”

A statement from the Premier’s office blamed “human error” during a training exercise for the alert which startled many Ontarians at around 7:23 a.m. Sunday.

The alert said an incident had been reported at the power plant but that “there has been NO abnormal release of radioactivity from the station.”

Another alert admitting that the previous alert was an error was sent at around 9:11 a.m. but it gave no further details.

“All human systems are fallible, let’s face that,” Tabuns said. “But we need to know that the maximum is being done to minimize errors.”

“After yesterday, (Ontarians) have less trust in the system. Action has to be taken to boost trust up.”

Tabuns also took issue with the vague and confusing wording of the alert.

“When I read it I was just confused by it — ‘We have emergency crews going in, but nothing has happened, but you should be alert that something has gone wrong.’ Yeah it was poorly done.”

“When I read it I wondered what on earth are they talking about.”

Online reaction

Tabuns believes the public is losing trust in the emergency notification system. CityNews posed that question on its Twitter page. Here’s some of your responses: