The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission announced new regulations Friday obliging nuclear power plants in Canada to pre-distribute potassium iodide pills to residents and business owners, living and working nearby.
The nuclear plants must also stockpile enough of the pills for the population of the extended area in an 80 kilometre range.Listen
They are described as ‘radiation protection pills’ but Gordon Edwards, of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, says they will only provide some protection if taken before exposure.
Edwards says the announcements are good news, coming after years of pressure from Greenpeace and other environmental advocacy groups, particularly in the wake of the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan. But Edwards cautions that the new regulations won’t amount to much without a clear and informative public education campaign.
“There is no such thing as an anti-radiation pill.”
The pills are a simple combination of potassium iodide and will block the absorption of radiation in the thyroid gland.
Gordon Edwards explains, in a backgrounder on his website, that “the idea of taking non-radioactive iodine pills is to make sure that the thyroid gland has already absorbed all the iodine it can, BEFORE the radioactive iodine comes along – so when the radioactive iodine enters the body it is NOT sent to the thyroid gland but excreted as waste.”
This may be a tall order, depending on the communications of nuclear power plants; how can they foresee the leaks? These new rules were released to the public on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend.