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Beyond Nuclear launches campaign to require direct delivery of KI out to 50-miles of nuclear power plants and stockpiles out to 200-miles


Beyond Nuclear and its first partner group, the Alliance to Halt Fermi-3, have launched a campaign to call upon federal and state emergency officials to require the direct delivery of thyroid protective medicine, potassium iodide (KI), free to every resident in the 50-mile Emergency Planning Zone for the Fermi-2 nuclear power station in Monroe, MI.  KI is proven to provide effective prophylactic protection to the thyroid gland particularly in infants and children from cancer-causing radioactive iodine that would likely be released during a severe nuclear accident. The groups first action was to go door knocking in Frenchtown Charter Township area of Monroe, MI asking for sign-ons of support. The 50-mile emergency planning zone for Fermi-2 includes the cities of Ann Arbor, Detroit and Toledo.

The effort to directly distribute KI in the United States begins as the Canadian Nuclear Safty Commission (CNSC) is requiring KI direct delivery to Canadian citizens within the 10-kilometer (6 miles) emergency planning zones around Canadian nuclear power plants. Canadian residents will receive their KI tablets at their home addresses no later than December 31, 2015 as part of Canada’s lessons learned from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.

A six-mile radius however is not effective given the demonstrated reach of a fast moving nuclear catastrophe. In 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident spread significant radioactive contamination out more than 100 miles from disaster site. The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine sent radioactive iodine even farther where thyroid cancers rates have not yet diminished. In fact, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) is strongly recommending that all residents in the 50-mile ingestion pathway zone for every nuclear power plant emergency planning zone receive a supply of KI tablets by mail or door-to-door direct delivery in advance of the next nuclear crisis. The professional medical association further recommends that KI stockpiles be established in schools, police stations and fire departments out to 200 miles from every U.S. nuclear power plant. If taken in advance of exposure, KI is proven to be effective as prophylactic protection to the thyroid from cancer-causing radioactive iodine that would likely be released from a severe accident at the nuclear power plant. At 10 cents per tablet for 24 hours of protection, state and federal emergency planners must be compelled to make this public health recommendation a nationwide requirement around every nuclear power station.

In Michigan, as elsewhere, residents in a ten-mile radius of Fermi’s Emergency Planning Zone receive a voucher in the mail that they can redeem to pickup free KI tablets at designated pharmacies.  But according to the Michigan Department of Community Health,  only 5.3% of eligible recipients in the emergency planning zone actually turn the vouchers in for the thyroid protecting tablets. Voluntary pick-up of KI is not working for  emergency preparedness.   The KI tablets must be readily at hand in home medicine cabinets or automobile glove compartments to take immediately upon notification of an emergency response in order to be effective.

KI is not to be mistaken for a blanket "anti-radiation" pill. It only provides protection by saturating the thyroid gland with a concentration of the stable iodine compound used in common table salt. If taken in conjunction with evacuation and temporary shelter-in-place from radioactive fallout, it can provide effective protection to the thyroid from the fast moving gaseous cloud of radioactive iodine (I-131) at the leading edge of a severe nuclear accident.