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Ann Arbor moves to harmonize radiation emergency planning with international best practices

The emergency planning zones for three U.S. atomic power plants (Michigan’s Fermi 2 and Ohio’s Davis-Besse and Perry) span an international border between the United States and Canada. Following Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, radiation protection actions were upgraded by Canadian authorities ---particularly for young children, infants and pregnant women---and unchanged by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. As a result, Canadians living in potential radiation emergency zones from U.S. reactors are now better prepared than the U.S. population. That doesn’t make sense.  

The City of Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Environmental Commission wants to harmonize radiation protection for its citizens with what Canadians are now getting for the Fermi atomic power plant. The Commission unanimously approved a resolution co-authored by Beyond Nuclear asking that the Mayor and City Council request the Washtenaw County Public Health Department, the State of Michigan and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to strategically stockpile potassium iodide tablets (KI) for the population within the city, the county and the 50-mile emergency planning zone around the Fermi-2 nuclear power station located in Monroe, MI.  City officials want the public health department and nuclear regulatory authority to harmonize the protective actions for their citizens with international best practices for the same reactor site.

There is now a consensus of the professional medical community that the pre-distribution of KI is prudent. If ingested shortly after a nuclear accident, it is a safe, effective and affordable prophylactic treatment that blocks absorption of cancer-causing radioactive iodine into the thyroid gland.  According to a July 2017 scientific statement published by American Thyroid Association (ATA) and its conclusion affirmed in November 2018 policy paper of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the pre-distribution of KI tablets to the population within a 50-mile radius of every nuclear power station with special attention to the youngest at greatest risk is an “essential adjunct to evacuation, sheltering and avoiding contaminated food, milk and water.”

In December 2017, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the Ontario Provincial Government upgraded their 2014 post-Fukushima radiological preparedness plan for populations around Canadian reactors  to additionally mandate that KI be pre-distributed to Canadians within the 10-mile radius and to stockpile and make KI available upon request to Canadians residing within the overlapping 50-mile radii of three U.S. nuclear power stations (Fermi-2 in Michigan, Davis-Besse and Perry in Ohio).  The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission similarly reviewed the distribution of KI tablets beyond the 10-mile emergency planning zone and concluded no regulatory changes were needed.

KI is now being distributed to the Ontario city of Amherstburg and the counties of Windsor, Essex and southern Chatham for the three U.S.-based power reactors.

The city of Ann Arbor is seeking equal radiological emergency preparedness for the US-side of the Fermi 2 emergency planning zone. 

The video of the December 6, 2018 Environmental Commission meeting can be viewed at                          >  <  as a special presentation and commission discussion. The KI agenda item begins with public comments (@1:57 min. through 4:37 min. marker) and a special presentation by Beyond Nuclear, thecommission discussion and approval (@5:50 min. through 40:40 min. marker).

The City resolution will now go before the Mayor and City Council for review and the vote.