Local News

Wake to distribute preparedness tablets to residents near nuclear plant

Posted April 26, 2010 5:47 p.m. EDT

— Wake County will distribute potassium iodide (KI) tablets next month to residents located within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) of the Harris Nuclear Power Plant.

The distribution is part of joint preparedness planning by Chatham, Harnett, Lee and Wake counties. The doses are being distributed to replace pills residents may currently have on hand that recently expired.

Wake County will offer drive through distribution to people living within the EPZ from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, and Saturday, May 22, at the following locations:

  • Fuquay-Varina High School, 201 Bengal Blvd., Fuquay-Varina
  • Holly Ridge Middle School, 950 Holly Ridge Road, Holly Springs
  • Apex High School, 1501 Laura Duncan Road, Apex

“It is always better to be prepared for an emergency ahead of time, and for people who live within 10 miles of the Shearon Harris plant, this is an excellent way to do so,” Wake County Community Health Director Sue Lynn Ledford said in statement. "We also ask that people put their potassium iodide in a safe place once they get home, and never take it unless they are directed to do so by either the County or the state."

KI is an over-the-counter medication that can protect the thyroid gland if a person is exposed to radioactive iodine released during an emergency at a nuclear power plant. If taken within the appropriate time and at the appropriate dose, KI blocks the thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine and reduces the risk of thyroid cancer.

People allergic to iodine should not take KI.

Children are more vulnerable to the effects of radioactive iodine than adults, and are more likely to develop thyroid cancer if they are exposed to radioactive iodine. Parents should consult a doctor if they have questions about their children taking KI.

The best health protection in a nuclear power plant emergency is to evacuate the area. Taking KI when instructed is an additional safety measure, Ledford said.