Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: False Nuclear Incident Alert Issued in Ontario
EDM Monday Briefing: False Nuclear Incident Alert Issued in Ontario

EDM Monday Briefing: False Nuclear Incident Alert Issued in Ontario

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for January 13, 2020: Residents of the Philippines evacuate as Taal Volcano erupts and spews ash; severe weather across the South over the weekend killed 11 and left a wide swath of damage and destruction; Puerto Rico struggles to cope as numerous strong earthquakes rock the island; firefighters gain ground ahead of raging bushfires after a break in the weather; the flu is now widespread in at least 45 states; a United Express passenger who attempted to storm the cockpit in flight is now in custody; Ontario's Provincial Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) sent out a province-wide nuclear incident alert in error; and the FDA announces the recall of additional lots of generic versions of Zantac.

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1) The Taal Volcano, situated on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, roared to life on Sunday, spewing ash and steam and forcing thousands to evacuate. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the status to Alert Level 4, noting than even though the volcano is erupting, a more hazardous eruption is imminent in the next days. The continuous eruption is causing heavy ash fall, prompting airport closures and the cancellation of classes in several cities, along with a health warning for the public to avoid breathing the toxic volcanic ash.

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2) Severe weather that covered much of the United States from Friday to Saturday is being blamed for the deaths of 11 people, including two first responders in Texas. The severe weather brought ice storms, heavy rainfall and severe thunderstorms. The storms spawned tornadoes in several states, including at least five in Alabama, two of which were confirmed EF2 tornadoes. The heavy rain also triggered flash floods in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, disrupting air travel throughout the region.

3) Puerto Rico was rocked by a 6.4 earthquake five days ago that injured eight people. However, a series of strong aftershocks -- some almost as strong as the first quake -- continue to shake the island. A total of 560 earthquakes have impacted the nation in the last 7 days, 24 of those occurring in 24 hours from Saturday to Sunday. The quakes included a 5.9 magnitude earthquake Saturday that caused a landslide in the southern municipality of Peñuelas and caused millions of dollars of damage along the southern coast. Previous quakes toppled homes and schools and caused widespread power outages.

4) Australian bushfires have been burning for weeks, but according to reports, firefighters are turning from defense to offense for the first time. Crediting a break in the weather, firefighters were able to begin bulldozing small trees and to burn shrub ahead of the fire's projected path. A total of 28 deaths have now been attributed to the raging bushfires that are ravaging the nation, which includes a firefighter who died Saturday when a tree fell on him as he was fighting a wildfire.

5) The flu continues to be widespread across the nation, with Michigan reporting its first two pediatric deaths of the 2019-2020 flu season. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that flu cases have been rising across the nation over the past eight weeks, with 45 states reporting widespread flu activity. According to estimates by the CDC, at least 9.7 million people have contracted the flu during this flu season. Of those cases, there have been 87,000 hospitalizations, and 4,800 people have died from the virus.

6) A passenger onboard a United Express flight became unruly and just before the aircraft landed, attempted to breach the cockpit and then injured a flight attendant. The male passenger, identified as Matthew Dingley, was arrested after the plane landed at Newark International Airport, but not without a fight. According to reports, the flight attendant was allegedly injured when the man attacked her after failing to gain access to the cockpit. Dingley then fought with arresting officers, injuring six Port Authority Police Officers before he was subdued.

7) An alert message indicating an incident at a nuclear facility in Ontario, Canada, was sent in error on Sunday. The false alert indicated an incident had occurred at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station; however, it was not corrected for nearly 40 minutes. Initial information from the solicitor general of Ontario stated that the message was sent by the Provincial Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) during a routine training exercise, and an investigation was now underway in hopes to prevent a future reoccurrence.

8) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recalled additional lots of Ranitidine, the generic drug version of Zantac. The recall is being issued due to possible contamination of the drug from NDMA -- N-Nitrosodimethylamine -- a possible human carcinogen. Lots included in the recall were produced by Denton Pharma Inc. and Appco Pharma, and include 150 mg and 300 mg tablets.

 

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.