State Residents Near Two Nuclear Plants to Receive Pills to Protect Against Radiation Exposure
State officials plan to distribute potassium iodide pills to about 500,000 individuals who reside within 10 miles of two nuclear power plants to help protect against radiation exposure in the event of a terrorist attack on the facilities, the Los Angeles Times reports. The state will distribute tablets to 421,000 residents in areas of Orange and San Diego counties near a nuclear power plant in San Onofre and 22,000 residents in San Luis Obispo County near a facility in Diablo Canyon. The state will allow residents who reside outside a 10-mile radius of the facilities to order the pills -- which help protect against the development of thyroid cancer when taken within four hours of radiation exposure -- over the Internet at $1 to $2 per tablet. The state made the decision to distribute the pills six months after the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission offered the tablets to the 34 states with nuclear power plants. The NRC had considered the proposal for several years, but the plan "took on urgency" after the Sept. 11 attacks, which prompted concerns that terrorists may target nuclear power plants. Thirteen states have received the tablets this year, and two others have requested them. Breck Henderson, a spokesperson for the NRC, said that the pills only protect against one type of radioactive isotope and that evacuation or shelter serves as the "best protection" in the event of radiation exposure (Pasco/Hanley, Los Angeles Times, 6/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.