Locally, the spokesman for NextEra Energy Seabrook nuclear power plant said he’s witnessed the same situations arise during a low-level unusual event that took place at the plant in June.
When a small amount of ammonia spilled in a storage room in the warehouse section of the plant, Seabrook Station authorities declared an “unusual event,” because the chemical nature of ammonia rose to the criteria for such a declaration, Al Griffith said.
All the appropriate agencies — including the NRC and local and state emergency agencies — were notified, as is the required procedure, Griffith said. But some people who habitually monitor scanner frequencies and other communications avenues heard the information and spread it on social media, blowing the event out of proportion, he said.
As a result, what was really a minor problem that was addressed and cleared up quickly grew significantly in scope due to rumors on the Web, said Griffith, whose office was immediately deluged with calls.
Situations such as these are why Seabrook Station’s parent company, NextEra, located in Juno Beach, Fla., now has people within its communications team monitoring social media and correcting misinformation when needed.
“The purpose is to identify rumors and correct mistaken information that’s gotten out there,” Griffith said. “News and information travels a lot faster than it used to, and as a company, you need to be nimble and respond quickly. You have to be a lot faster, and using social media makes us more efficient.”