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OPG supports investigation into false warning about Pickering nuclear plant

OPINION by Sean Granville, Chief Nuclear Officer

On Jan. 12, people across the province — including Ontario Power Generation (OPG) employees — were awoken by an Alert Ready warning issued in error by the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) during routine training. At the time, our Pickering units were operating as designed, and no notifications indicating otherwise had been issued to PEOC. OPG urged the PEOC to issue a retraction.

Sunrise at Pickering Nuclear Generating Station
Pickering Nuclear Generating Station

In the days since, OPG staff have fielded hundreds of questions from the local community, the broader public and media. We have listened to stories of how the alarm impacted your families, and provided reassurances that there was never any cause for concern. We continue to address misinformation.

The fact is that the Pickering station is one of the world’s top-performing Canada Deuterium Uranium (CANDU) stations, as recently recognized by the World Association of Nuclear Operations. In 2019, the station produced 23.6 TWh (terawatt hours) of clean electricity for the province, the highest output in station history. Pickering Nuclear is widely recognized for its strong safety culture and robust emergency preparedness program. And, our dedicated staff are proud nuclear professionals who provide clean, emissions-free power to one out of every seven homes and businesses across Ontario.

Senior OPG management spoke to the Pickering Nuclear Community Advisory Committee on Jan. 21 and explained that OPG was in no way involved in the issuing of the alert. The Solicitor General has apologized on behalf of the Government of Ontario for raising public concern and has promised an investigation into what happened. OPG will support this investigation.

OPG is a learning organization that cares about our community, and we commit to working alongside our partners in emergency preparation at the local, provincial and federal levels to collectively understand how our organizations can better serve our neighbours when they need us most.

If you have comments, we would like to hear them. We invite you to visit our Pickering Nuclear Information Centre or call 905-837-7272 to speak with our staff.

We believe an informed community is a prepared community. If you would like to learn more about the steps taken by OPG to protect the public, please visit www.opg.com/nuclearsafety. Should you have questions about the province’s emergency response plan, visit www.emergencymanagementontario.ca. To order potassium iodide (KI) pills, visit www.preparetobesafe.ca.

And, to learn more about how the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission regulates the safe operation of our nuclear power plants, visit www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca.

OPG’s number one priority is, and will continue to be, the safety of our employees, the station, the environment and our host communities.