January 26, 1982: I Repeat, This Is Not A Test

Growing up south of Rochester, New York, one of my regular childhood memories is of the tests of the Emergency Broadcast System.  I would hear these on a very regular basis over the radio as well as on television.

Today, for the only time during my childhood, the Emergency Broadcast System sounded with “This is not a test, I repeat, this is not a test.”  As a child I did not really understand the importance of the system.  I was not yet, at the age of six, acutely aware of how close we were, throughout my childhood, to serious war with the Soviet Union (USSR.)  This alarm was not because of a military warning.  This was an alarm triggered by a steam leak at the reactor at the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in Ontario, New York just east of Rochester.

The leak at Ginna lasted only for 93 minutes but, for many of us, the event would stick in our memory.  I had not been aware before today that there was even a nuclear power plant in the Rochester area.  It is not something that I would forget.

At nine this evening, President Ronald Reagan delivered his first State of the Union Address which I would have been allowed to stay up to watch.  My memories of the State of the Union Addresses always make me think of the Reagan years when they were really worth watching.

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  1. They invoked the EBS in some parts of the NY area on 9/11…

    “This is not a test”

    The monthly fire tests in my building are annoying.

  2. The EBS was supposed to have been dismantled in 1997. The Emergency Alert System replaced it but, according to Wikipedia, did not get activated on 9/11 because it would have interrupted the already ongoing alerting in place by the media.

    The EBS was never used for a national emergency (although once that was triggered by accident) but was used over 20,000 times for local issues over its lifespan.

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