08 JUNE 02: A LITTLE
POTASSIUM IODIDE FOR YOUR TROUBLES…
County issues thousands
of anti-radiation pills
June 8, 2002 Posted: 10:03
PM EDT (0203 GMT)
YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, New York
(CNN) — A suburban New York county Saturday handed out thousands of pills
meant to give residents limited protection from radiation in case of disaster
at a nearby nuclear power plant.
County officials are giving out free potassium iodine tablets, known as
“KI,” to anyone who lives within 10 miles of the Indian Point nuclear power
plant, about 35 miles north of New York City. About 140,000 people live
in that 10-mile radius.
lined up outside a Yorktown Heights school to pick up the pills, which
can prevent thyroid cancer, if taken within 24-hours of a nuclear exposure.
The pill works by preventing the thyroid gland from absorbing radiation.
said the pills would protect people long enough for them to be evacuated
from the area, but they warn that it is not a panacea. Westchester County
spokeswoman Victoria Hochman told The Associated Press that 2,617 people
had picked up 10,533 KI pills by the end of the day Saturday.
are not protecting against everything in a nuclear accident. I think that
is really important to emphasize,” said Dr. Loren Wissner Greene, a thyroid
specialist at New York University Medical Center. “What it does do is decrease
the ability of the thyroid gland to pick up this radioactive iodine, which
can cause a high instance of thyroid cancer, especially in young children.”
Point’s owner, the New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., says that its plant
is designed with multiple safety systems, and the prospect of an accident
that would threaten the public is “unlikely.”
Joseph Ruffino, who brought his two young daughters to pick up the pills,
said the whole thing was kind of surreal.
“It’s hard to believe this is your daily reality these days, but it is,”
The pill giveaway also attracted anti-nuclear activists who said the only
way to protect the community is to close the plant.
Ruffino said he had much more respect for the protesters now than he did
in the past.
“I looked at them very differently, no doubt about it,” he said.
State received 1.2 million pills to give to people who live near the plant.
Twelve other states that have nuclear reactors have also requested the
pills from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Maryland and Vermont were
the first states to give them out, The Associated Press reported.
of pharmacies in the county are selling the pills to people who live more
than 10 miles from the plant, according to the county’s Web site.