SPRINGFIELD (WIFR) -- The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) today announced plans to begin offering free Potassium Iodide (KI) pills to residents living within a 10-mile radius of the state’s six operating nuclear power plants. More than 60,000 homes within the Emergency Planning Zones (EPZs) of each plant soon will receive a voucher that can be redeemed for the pills at participating Walgreens stores.
KI is a non-prescription drug used to protect the thyroid from radioactive iodine, which could be released during a nuclear power plant accident. Residents should receive the vouchers in the mail by mid-December.
This is the second time the state of Illinois has distributed KI pills to residents near nuclear power plants. In 2002, the Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety (IDNS) offered KI pills to people living within the EPZs. IDNS merged with IEMA in 2003.
“Many people have moved into the Emergency Planning Zones around the nuclear plants since we last provided KI to the residents,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “Others may have added family members or lost their pills. That’s why we felt it was time to make the pills available once again.”
Monken noted that while KI only protects the thyroid gland, it will provide additional protection to people living near the nuclear plants in the event of an accident. He said evacuation and sheltering in place are still the most effective ways to protect the whole body from radiation exposure, which remains the top priority.
The vouchers can be redeemed at more than 40 participating Walgreens stores for a two-day supply of KI for every member of the household. IEMA is also partnering with the Illinois Poison Center, which will field questions about the over-the-counter medication.
The nuclear power plants in Illinois are Braidwood, Byron, Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle and Quad-Cities.
IEMA obtained 215,000 pills at no cost from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The state also maintains a supply of KI pills for emergency workers who would work in or near a contaminated area during a nuclear power plant accident.
More information about KI and the IEMA’s nuclear safety programs is available at the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.