New Jersey officials apologized Wednesday for accidentally broadcasting false alerts to residents that a nuclear power plant disaster was underway.
Residents in two New Jersey counties were watching television Tuesday night only to suddenly be warned of an emergency at the nation's second-largest nuclear generating facility. In a statement, New Jersey State Police say, "The message was intended for a small group of emergency management personnel who were participating in the exercise". Immediately after the false emergency message was sent at 9:20 p.m., the Cumberland County Office of Emergency Management initiated its SwiftReach Reverse 911 to alert residents of the error.
Joe Delmar, spokesman for PSEG nuclear plants in Salem County, said that during a "regularly scheduled emergency drill", the information was misinterpreted as real, and an emergency notification was sent through State Police. "Any message received is an error". Some of the drill scenario was mistaken for an actual emergency.
The Salem County Office of Emergency Management tweeted out shortly after the warning was issued: "There is NOT an emergency at the Salem Nuclear plant".
Officials moved quickly to inform the public about the error.
PSEG Nuclear LLC operates Salem and Hope Creek nuclear generating stations along the Delaware River in Salem County.
Authorities say that only the state has the ability to send out Emergency Alert System messages such as the one sent out Tuesday night. Conrow says the 911 Communications Center was inundated with thousands of calls.
A total of 69,095 calls were made and from those called 30,015 were answered.
The alert, which automatically overrode DVRs and all broadcasts, went out to viewers in Cumberland and Salem counties.