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Malfunction sets off warning sirens near North Carolina nuclear power plant

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A malfunction apparently set off a warning alarm system at a nuclear energy plant near Raleigh, N.C. (YouTube screenshot)

An apparent malfunction set off public warning sirens Friday afternoon at a North Carolina nuclear power plant, according to published reports.

What happened?

North Carolina's Department of Public Safety confirmed that a malfunction triggered a false alarm at the Harris Nuclear Plant southwest of Raleigh around 1 p.m., CBS News reported. The Wake County Emergency Management also indicated that the siren's alarm system went off in error and there were no issues at the plant.

"There is NO emergency at the Harris Nuclear Plant," public safety officials tweeted.

Sirens were activated near the towns of Apex and Cary. But it wasn’t known how many sirens went off and for how long, CBS News reported. There are a total of 83 sirens within 10 miles of the plant.

What did the energy company say?

"There is no impact to the public and no need for public actions," Duke Energy spokesman Brandon Thomas said in a written statement.

Duke Energy and state and local officials are investigating what caused the malfunction. On its website, Duke Energy said a regular test was held earlier this month, but no additional tests were scheduled.

A Cary resident told WNCN-TV the sirens sounded on and off for three to four minutes. Residents were spooked by the sirens and made a flurry of social media posts and calls to WRAL-TV in an attempt to find out what was going on, reports state.

The New Hill plant, which has generated power since 1987, features a 523-foot cooling tower that is seen from surrounding highways. It is also known as Shearon Harris for its founding power executive, CBS News reported.

The mishap comes days after a false alarm startled residents in Hawaii. An emergency services employee accidentally triggered the Emergency Alert System and Commercial Mobile Alert System and issued a false ballistic missile alert over television, radio and cellphone channels.

Residents were panicked and confused until the mistake was retracted by state officials more than a half-hour later.

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