‘Relaxing Threat of Nuclear Annihilation’: Panic in Canada After Alert From Pickering Nuclear Plant

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Ontario residents woke up on Sunday to a highly unusual alert from provincial authorities reporting about an incident at the nuclear power station in Pickering.

For those in Canada who haven’t watched HBO’s Chernobyl, the news from Pickering was a good reason to look up some info on the dangers of mismanaged nuclear power.

Authorities in the Province of Ontario on Sunday morning sent out an emergency bulletin after what they called an “incident” at the Pickering Nuclear Power Generation Station.

The alert assured locals that there had been “no abnormal release of radioactivity” within close proximity to the station, without going into further detail.

Although Pickering officials soon said that the alert had been put up by mistake – presumably triggered by a test of the emergency alert system – the panic had already spread across social media.

Completed in 1971, the Pickering plant is sitting on the northern shore of Lake Ontario just east of Toronto. Scheduled to be shut down in 2024, it is Canada’s third-largest nuclear power station, producing about 16 percent of Ontario’s power and providing over 7,000 jobs, if staff and suppliers are included.

The plant has seen several accidents of varying severity since the 1970s, including a loss of coolant accident in 1983 and a spill of 185 tonnes of heavy water in 1994.

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