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Malfunction triggers sirens at North Carolina nuclear plant, authorities say

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A malfunction caused public warning sirens to sound a false alarm Friday near a North Carolina nuclear power plant, authorities said. North Carolina's Department of Public Safety said the sirens that sounded around 1 p.m. near the Harris Nuclear Plant were a false alarm.

"There is NO emergency at the Harris Nuclear Plant," public safety officials said in a tweet.  

Duke Energy issued a news release saying the sirens malfunctioned, and that the plant southwest of Raleigh was operating safely. The sirens were heard near the towns of Apex and Cary.

"There is no impact to the public and no need for public actions. We will investigate the cause of the malfunction," plant spokesperson Brandon Thomas told CBS affiliate WNCN-TV.

The company said it was investigating the cause along with state and local government officials. Spokesman Brandon Thomas said it wasn't immediately clear how many sirens went off and for how long. The warning system consists of 83 sirens within 10 miles of the plant.

While a test sounding was conducted earlier in the month, no tests had been scheduled for Friday, according to a Duke Energy website.

A Cary resident told WNCN-TV the sirens sounded on and off for three to four minutes.

Other residents took to Twitter to voice a mixture of concern and bemusement about hearing the power plant alarms days after a false ballistic missile warning in Hawaii.

Hawaii lawmakers were holding a hearing Friday to discuss a false alarm last weekend that warned of a ballistic missile headed for the island state.

The North Carolina plant, also known as Shearon Harris for its namesake power executive, has a massive 523-foot cooling tower that can be seen from surrounding highways. The plant in New Hill began generating power in 1987.

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