The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management says the Emergency Alert System “accidentally” sent out a warning in Salem and Cumberland counties with the message, “a civil authority has issued a nuclear power plant warning the following counties/areas.”
The mistaken alert went out shortly before 9 p.m. on Tuesday. Afterwards, in Salem and Cumberland counties, a reverse 911 call was put out alerting residents that there was no emergency at the nuclear generating complex in Lower Alloways Creek Township.
A short time after the message went out over the TV, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management tweeted that the emergency alert was “false.”
— NJOEM (@ReadyNJ) May 24, 2017
“We are conducting an emergency drill. Some of the drill scenario was mistaken for an actual emergency,” said Joe Delmar, spokesman for PSEG Nuclear, Tuesday night. “We are working with the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management to correct this information. Again, there is no emergency.”
The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management has not released a statement on how the alert went out or whether the system was yet again hacked.
Brenda Banks, the spokeswoman for Salem County, said once the mistake was noticed, officials began notifying the public and the news media that all was OK. Banks said officials were still trying to determine what happened. They expect to continue investigating the incident on Wednesday.
Past EAS “Accidents” and Hacks
In September 2016, Utica, New York, Television viewers started seeing weird messages pop up on their screens about a pending Hazardous Materials disaster somewhere in the United States. Those warnings were sent over WKTV News Channel 2 in Utica, New York. KTNV claimed the EAS alert was hacked by an outside source.
A month later in November 2016, US Cellular customers received dozens of emergency alerts on their phones that baffled local emergency response crews, who claimed they were not regularly scheduled tests.
In April 2017, Hackers took over the Dallas, Texas Emergency Alert system and were able to activate the cities system of emergency sirens at least a dozen times.