Hear no evil

Why nuclear warning sirens won’t sound

(This story is a couple of weeks old, but I’ve just become aware of it.)

Communities near a nuclear powerplant in Ontario are without warning sirens to alert them of an emergency situation. The sirens have been purchased, but they sit in a warehouse somewhere. Why?

Sirens and other warning devices in the area would drive down property values.

[Pickering]Councillor Maurice Brenner said the proposed new emergency alert system, which also includes a “black box radio” for every home within three kilometres of the plant, is “draconian” and “a threat to local property values.”

Brenner said local citizens would be “absolutely horrified” if they found out one of these “Cold War-era sirens” was going to be installed in front of their home.

He said the sirens proved to be “like something you see in old movies about wartime prisoner-of-war camps. I don’t think anyone would want these monstrosities in their front yard.”

No. He’s right that no one would want one in their front yard, but if there’s going to be a mushroom cloud in my backyard an hour from now, I’d like to know ASAP, thank-you very much.

Is it just me, or is this beyond unreal?

The provincial nuclear emergency plan requires the municipality to notify the 20,000 people who live in a three-kilometre radius of the Pickering plant within 15 minutes of a nuclear emergency.

The municipality of Clarington, originally in support of the siren system, now backs Pickering and will not allow the installation at 19 proposed sites around the Darlington nuclear generating station.

“I don’t think we need any more memories of the Cold War in our community,” said Clarington Mayor John Mutton.

A letter the following day:

Sirens are very ugly and won’t contribute to safety. Evacuations should be conducted by police and other emergency groups in an orderly fashion without panicking the public.
Dominic Bevilacqua, Pickering, March 3

And another:

No sirens because they look ugly? In the same way, the builders of the Titanic thought that lifeboats detracted from the design and lines of that ill-fated ship.
Charles Smedor, Toronto, Mar. 3


The thing people don’t understand about the Canadian-designed CANDU system is it cannot melt down. It is impossible for a Chernobyl-type disaster to happen at any Canadian nuclear power plant. I work at Pickering A and the plant may be aging but is in no way in any danger of failing.
Brad Johnson, Toronto, March 3

Apparently, the power plant is unsinkable.

A couple of days later: `Less intrusive’ sirens possible. Well, I’ll let you save my life and the lives of my family. But only if property values don’t go down and if the sirens don’t look bad.

This is just bizarre.

Residents should go on a motorcycle ride through the lovely Chernobyl area. (heads up from the ThisIsTrue newsletter, stories found using google)


  1. I would love to have an air raid siren in my front yard! It would be great to have a Federal Thunderbolt or 2T22! Those are beautiful. Now the sirens purchased for the power plant are not air raid sirens. They are basically 6 PA type loudspeakers on a rotating box. They are for public address and warning. I think these people are objecting without even knowing what ‘siren’ means.