DEMA Distributes Free KI Pills to People near Nuclear Power Plan - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DEMA Distributes Free KI Pills to People near Nuclear Power Plant

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TOWNSEND, Del. (WBOC) - The Delaware Emergency Management Agency handed out free potassium iodide pills Thursday to people who live near the Salem-Hope Creek Nuclear Power Plant. The agency says the pills an important part of being prepared if there's a nuclear accident.

The potassium-iodide pills are designed to protect people's thyroid glands in the event they are exposed to radiation. The federal government has been giving them out for free to people nationwide who live near nuclear plants since the early 2000's.

The distribution of the potassium-iodide, or KI, pills boils down to location. Even though the Salem-Hope Creek Nuclear Plant is in New Jersey, the pills are available to people living within ten miles of it. That easily takes in a nice chunk of the Delaware right across the bay.

Lawrence Jones has lived right across the water from the plant for two decades.

"We just want to be safe. Hopefully nothing ever goes wrong," he said as he picked up his pills at the Townsend Fire Department Thursday afternoon. "We see the plant every single day. So, it's always in your mind."

DEMA says there are 41,000 Delaware households within ten miles of the plant. The ten-mile circle takes in just a little sliver of Kent County up to Woodland Beach east of Smyrna.

At the time the Nuclear Regulatory Commission started offering free pills, NRC documents say nationally there were about three million people living within ten miles of a plant. And a 2007 memo estimates the cost of the program to the us government at about $3 million every six to seven years.

Gary Liang, with DEMA, says if there is a serious incident at Salem-Hope Creek, the agency might tell people to take the pills.

"It helps protect the person in combination with other preventative measures they'd be instructed to take."

Despite being just one of many potential measures, and the cost to taxpayers, Liang says the KI pills program is worth it for people who live in the area.

"They have some sense of self-protection, protecting themselves and their families," he said. "Yeah, it probably is worth it."

"A little help makes you feel a little better," Jones said. "But if something serious goes wrong, I'm getting out of Dodge anyway."

People who live just outside the plant's ten-mile zone, like people in Smyrna, can easily and cheaply get the pills at a pharmacy or online.

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