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Cornelius News

No emergency at McGuire Nuclear Station; sirens were a mistake

The sirens from McGuire Nuclear Station that sounded this morning were accidental.

Jan. 19.  Mary Kathryn Green, a Duke Energy spokeswoman, said the McGuire Nuclear Station is operating safely and there is no emergency.

Duke Energy is working with local and state emergency offices to determine how the alarm went off inadvertently for the McGuire Nuclear Station in Huntersville, she said.

A local law enforcement source told Cornelius Today that it was “supposed to be a silent test but there was a malfunction.”

Duke Energy works in partnership with the counties who are responsible for sounding the sirens and any public actions, Green said. Audible testing is done on Wednesdays, with the last one done at McGuire on Jan. 11.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management regularly runs silent tests of the McGuire Nuclear Station sirens to ensure the sirens are working. There are digital communication systems built into silent test that show if the alarms are working.

The siren sound today was a regularly scheduled silent test. A malfunction occurred causing the test to sound at full volume, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management.

The sirens sounded at 10 am, and it took  an hour for a countywide disregard  notice to be sent. The alarms sounded for several minutes, long enough to raise concern, even panic in some residents of Lake Norman. Police and fire officials were among the first to post that the alarms were a mistake.


The groundbreaking for the McGuire Nuclear Station on Lake Norman in Huntersville was in 1971, with Unit 1 beginning commercial operation in 1981 and Unit 2 in 1984. The reactor type is pressurized water reactor.

All US reactors were initially licensed for 40 years, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a 20-year extension on McGuire’s license.

The station’s capacity is 2,316 megawatts, enough to power. More than 1.7 million  homes, according to Duke Energy’s fact sheet on the plant.

Lake Norman, the state’s largest manmade lake was built by Duke Energy in 1963 bay damming the Catawba River with Cowans Ford Hydroelectric Station.

What to do if you hear a siren

(From Duke Energy)

Sirens are the primary outdoor warning system for alerting the public of an emergency. In the unlikely event of an emergency to the nuclear station, Duke Energy would immediately notify federal, state and local authorities. These authorities could activate pole-mounted sirens in a 10-mile zone.

If you hear a loud, steady sound coming from one of the sirens around the nuclear station, tune to a local radio or TV station. These stations will carry an emergency alert information  message from local officials to give you information and instructions on what to do.

Hearing a siren does not mean you should evacuate. It simply means to tune to a local radio or television station for information. If sirens are sounding and you do not see or hear a message on radio or television, contact your county’s emergency management office.

To alert people indoors, radio and television stations will carry emergency information messages from local officials. Follow their instructions. Stay tuned. Outdoor sirens will not necessarily be heard inside homes or businesses.

In an emergency, fire, police and rescue units may  patrol the affected area and sound their sirens, if necessary. Boaters also would be alerted via sirens, loudspeakers, etc.

Upon hearing a siren or emergency message, Duke energy also encourage people living in the 10-mile emergency planning zones to check with their neighbors to ensure they are aware of the situations – especially neighbors who may have special needs.