Authorities: Emergency alert at N.J. nuclear plant a false alarm

A boat patrols the waters around the nuclear power plant in Salem County.

LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK, N.J. — So that frightening broadcast alert about an emergency at the Salem County nuclear power plant … Never mind, authorities say.

An emergency broadcast message sent to televisions across south New Jersey around 9 p.M. ET Tuesday was just a mistake, according to state and county emergency management officials.

“There is NO emergency at our Hope Creek nuclear plant,” PSEG Nuclear spokesman Joe Delmar said in an email. “We are conducting an emergency drill. Some of the drill scenario was mistaken for an actual emergency. We are working with the NJ Office of Emergency Management to correct this information. Again, there is NO emergency.”.

The erroneously broadcast message read: “A civil authority has issued A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT WARNING for the following counties/areas: Cumberland; Salem, NJ; at 8:54 p.M. On May 23, 2017 effective until 9:54 p.M.”.

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That scary screw-up sent local officials scrambling to calm residents of the two counties:.

“There is NOT an emergency at the Salem Nuclear plant. Any message received is an error,” the Salem County Office of Emergency Management said in a tweet shortly after the alert was broadcast.

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“Disregard the emergency broadcast message for an emergency at the Salem Nuclear Plant,” the Vineland Office of Emergency Management said in an alert. “They are conducting an exercise. The message was sent in error.”.

Delmar said a regular exercise was being conducted Tuesday night with state police in which authorities practice how they would respond to a “worst case scenario.”.

“It seems one of the drill messages was put out there across the emergency broadcast system as a real event,” Delmar said in a phone interview from Arizona, where he’s attending a conference.

The false alert was initiated by the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, Delmar said, adding that no alerts were supposed to be broadcast as part of the drill.

“We apologize for any inconvenience,” the state OEM office said in a social media post letting residents know there is no reason for alarm.

The three-reactor Salem/Hope Creek nuclear complex on Artificial Island, along the Delaware River in Lower Alloways Creek, can generate enough energy to power 3 million homes. It is the second-largest nuclear generating facility in the country.

After the false alarm, the Cumberland County Office of Emergency Management made reverse 911 calls to residents telling them there was nothing to worry about.

A Facebook post by the Salem County 911 Center said the erroneous message “was not sent out by any Salem County agency!”.

“Again, there is NO emergency!” The post reiterated.

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