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People Living Near Shearon Harris To Receive Potassium Iodide Pills

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WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — Since Sept. 11, the United States has stepped up efforts to protect its nuclear power plants. The government has taken great lengths to prepare residents living near them, including the Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant.

For years, residents living near the nuclear power plant in New Hill have received a packet of instructions containing evacuation routes and information about what do in case of a nuclear leak or explosion. Now, those instructions will be accompanied by a pill.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has offered to provide stateswith enough

potassium iodide

( KI) pills to treat everyone living within 10 miles of a nuclear power station.

The pills saturate the thyroid with iodine, preventing the glandfrom absorbing any more. If taken at the right time, the pills canprevent radioactive iodine from being taken into the thyroid andcausing cancer later in life.

"The thyroid is the most sensitive gland in our body. When exposed to radiation, it absorbs it, making it susceptible to thyroid cancer," said Gibbie Harris of the Wake County Department of Health and Human Services.

North Carolina petitioned for 750,000 of the pills.

Residents living within a 10-mile radius of Shearon Harris, includingHolly Springs, Apex and parts of Fuquay-Varina, will receive the pills at the end of August.

Emergency management teams will


those residents if there is a leak or explosion at the plant.

"We do have plans in place for decontamination and personnel, and have people trained in these functions. We are slightly better off than other counties that don't have a nuclear power plant," said Brian McFeaters of Wake County Emergency Management.

Employees at the plant and emergency workers have participated in yearly drills; however, this is the first time the KI pills will be distributed.

The N.R.C. began offering the tablets to 33 states in December.Fifteen states have accepted so far.

The Fedral Drug Administration has approved potassium iodide as an over-the-counter medication. People allergic to shellfish or iodine cannot take the pills.


Emily Lopez, Reporter
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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