Nuclear plant safety drill leads to thousands of 911 calls in New Jersey

Salem and Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Stations (2017 Emergency Plan on the PSE&G website)

Salem and Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Stations (2017 Emergency Plan on the PSE&G website)

New Jersey officials inadvertently broadcasted an emergency alert for a South Jersey nuclear power plant Tuesday night.

The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management issued this television bulletin shortly before 9 p.m. advising of a “nuclear power plant warning” for residents in Cumberland and Salem counties.


But it was only a drill.

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A spokesman for Public Service Enterprise Group said a multi-hour drill Tuesday night at Hope Creek nuclear plant in Salem County was a regularly scheduled event, but the emergency broadcast led many to believe it was an actual emergency.

“I live about three miles from Salem County, and this scared the crap out of me. How did this happen? People deserve an explanation. You warned people to shelter in place,” Vicki Mazza Serreino wrote on the NJOEM Facebook page, where more than 100 local residents posted as of 10:35 p.m. Tuesday.

NBC10 reported that the Cumberland County 911 center received thousands of panicked phone calls from residents who saw the message.

Joe Delmar said there’s no emergency and that PSEG is working with the New Jersey the Office of Emergency Management to let area residents know.

Some on the NJOEM Facebook page said the false alert was a good test.

“How many people have actually trained or prepared their families for that type of situation. I guess now you have a good idea of how prepared or not prepared you are in case of an actual emergency,” Bob Chase wrote.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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