Potassium Iodine Will Remain Available with 10-mile Radius of Nuke Plants

 NRC APPROVES PROPOSAL TO CONTINUE DISTRIBUTING POTASSIUM IODIDE

NEAR NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS AS AN EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS MEASURE

 

The NRC has approved a staff recommendation to continue providing potassium iodide (KI) to states requesting it for residents who live within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone of a commercial nuclear power plant. The NRC had originally authorized only a one-time distribution to states requesting the product.

 

 

KI can help reduce the risk of thyroid cancer and other diseases by blocking the thyroid gland’s absorption of radioactive iodine, which could be dispersed in the unlikely event of a severe reactor accident. KI can be used as part of a state’s emergency preparedness program, in addition to evacuations and/or sheltering-in-place for the population closest to the nuclear power plant and thus at greatest risk of exposure to radioactive materials released during an accident.

 

In 2001, the NRC sent letters to 34 eligible states and offered funding for an initial supply of KI. Over the past seven years, 22 states have requested KI supplies from the NRC. Some of these states chose to stockpile the KI, while others distributed it to the public. In its original decision, the NRC had not committed to providing more than an initial KI distribution. In 2006, however, the NRC authorized a one-time replenishment of KI for those states participating in the NRC’s initiative. Under the new policy, the NRC will continue to provide KI tablets to or replenish stockpiles for states that request them. The NRC estimates the cost will be between $4 and $5 million every six years staring in FY 2013. A new contract is pending to spend $2.8 million on KI to finalize the initial replenishment to states.

 

 

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Bioterrorism Act’s Section 127 – Congress called for stockpiling KI out to 20 miles from a reactor site. Although Congress passed the Bioterrorism Act in 2002, it has not been implemented due to political maneuvering by the Bush Administration and NRC. Also, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health submitted comments opposing its implementation.

Reasons that KI should be stockpiled to at least 20 miles, Congress initially proposed 50 miles recognizing the lessons learned from Chernobyl and NRC’s own estimates of potential harm at and beyond that distance.

 

NRC Studies: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NUREG/CR 1433

 

Approximate Dangers of a Core-Melt Atmospheric Accident

For Children

 

Distance in Miles

Mean Thyroid Dose
(rem) for Exposed
Children Outdoors

Probability of Thyroid Damage to Exposed Children

Located Outdoors if not Protected by Stable Iodine (like KI)

1

26,000

100%

5

11,600

100%

10

6,400

100%

25

2,200

80%

50

760

26%

100

200

7%

150

72

2%

200

32

1%