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False alert about nuclear plant incident near Toronto alarms residents

Canadian province of Ontario sent out a false alert on Sunday (January 12) that there had been an incident at a massive nuclear power station near Toronto, Canada’s largest city, prompting angry local mayors to demand an inquiry.

At around 7:30 a.m. ET (1230 GMT) cell phone users across Ontario received an alert about the supposed incident at the aging Pickering plant, one of the world’s largest.

Less than an hour later the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) authority said the message had been a mistake.

“Important update: the alert regarding Pickering Nuclear was sent in error. There is no danger to the public or environment,” it said in a tweet without giving details.

The initial message said there had been no abnormal leak of activity from the plant, which is located on the shores of Lake Ontario some 50 km (30 miles) east of downtown Toronto. 

Toronto Mayor John Tory complained that many of the city’s 3 million residents had been unnecessarily alarmed and also pushed for a probe, citing what he said were “far too many unanswered questions”.

OPG was not immediately available for comment.

The plant came online in 1971 and has a power-generating capacity of 3,100 megawatts when fully active. It is scheduled to be shut down in 2024.

The Ontario government will issue a statement later on Sunday, said a spokeswoman for Premier Doug Ford.

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