Here in Illinois, nuclear energy stations while plentiful in number, are also quite old in the tooth. Illinois has the largest number of nuclear reactors and the largest amount of radioactive waste — nearly 8,000 metric tons — in the U.S.
Should disaster strike an Illinois nuclear plant and send more significant amounts of I-131 into the environment, Illinois residents won’t be prepared because of the state’s weak policy for distributing Potassium Iodide, or KI, according to David Kraft of the Chicago-based anti-nuclear group, Nuclear Energy Information Service.
A recently published FOIA document by the NRC reveals that the State of Illinois reached out to the NRC to obtain more stockpile reserve of KI for residents within the 10 mile emergency planning zones, however the request was denied, as “supplies are approaching their end date and will expire within the next several months”.
After the events at Fukushima, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency had said the state has enough potassium iodide on hand to distribute to residents living within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant.
This in contrast to a top official with the agency had said earlier at a public forum hosted by U.S. Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin that there weren’t enough tablets on hand. The stockpile is important because it is unlikely Illinois residents would be able to access the pills in an emergency.
Illinois is one of a handful of states in the U.S. that doesn’t participate in a federal program to supply pills containing potassium iodide, which is also known by the chemical symbol KI. The pills fill the thyroid with iodine to help reduce the risk of cancer in the event of a radiation release like Japan’s.
An IEMA spokeswoman said that the agency has 90,000 tablets on hand for first responders and 175,000 tablets on-hand to distribute to the public. She said about 180,000 people total live within 10 miles of a nuclear reactor in Illinois.
According to 2000 U.S. Census data, 36,493 people in Illinois live within 10 miles of Braidwood, 16,090 for LaSalle, 71,130 for Dresden, 13,268 for Clinton, 27,297 for Byron and 5,876 for Quad Cities for a total of 170,154.
Joseph Klinger, the assistant director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency misspoke when he said 180,000 people on average live within 10 miles of each nuclear plant in Illinois. Klinger told the lawmakers that if a reactor were to melt down in Illinois, the state does not have enough potassium iodide on hand to distribute to residents living within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant.
“Do you have 180,000 doses of potassium iodide available in each (evacuation zone)?” Kirk asked at the March forum.
“We don’t have that much,” Klinger said.
The last time KI pills were distributed to people living within evacuation zones was in 2002, he said, as part of a post-9/11 program.
While the shelf-life of those pills was until 2007, Klinger said the pills are still potent. Anyone who moved within 10 miles of a nuclear plant after 2002 has not received the pills.
“In Illinois, we’ve always felt the best way to protect citizens is to evacuate,” he said.
Mr. Joseph G. Klinger, Assistant Director
Illinois Emergency Management Agency
2200 South Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, IL 62703-4528
Dear Mr. Klinger:
Thank you for your interest in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) and Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) offer to provide ThyroShield TM, for
populations residing in the 10-mile emergency planning zone of a nuclear power plant.
At present, DHHS has only limited supplies of ThyroShield in the stockpile. These supplies are approaching their end date and will expire within the next several months. DHHS has not determined a stockpile replenishment schedule for ThyroShield.
As a result, at this time, NRC and DHHS are not able to offer ThyroShield product. If the current situation with respect to ThyroShield changes, we will notify interested States. Thank you for your interest in the NRC Potassium Iodide Program.
Robert J. Lewis, Director
Division of Preparedness and Response
Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response
Source: Illinois Times
Source: Chicago Business
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