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WHAT ABOUT CAPE COD?



NEWS:

Potassium Iodide (KI) available to Cape Cod and the Islands: Nearly 4 years after the law to distribute KI to these communities was enacted in Massachusetts, it is finally being implemented.

Has your community developed an implementation plan to stockpile KI in town schools, pre-schools & day-care centers, shelters, group homes, nursing homes and hospitals; and developed a public education strategy to inform the public what KI does, how to get it, and where it should be kept at home?
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The Cape Codder
Emergency pills delivered to Cape towns
By Douglas Karlson/ dkarlson@cnc.com
Friday, November 24, 2006

Over the past few weeks, towns from Harwich to Provincetown have been receiving hundreds of thousands of doses of potassium iodide pills to be taken in the event of a nuclear mishap at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant across Cape Cod Bay in Plymouth.

For years, health activists have been frustrated in their efforts to get the pills. In 2002, a Massachusetts law was passed requiring the state to supply potassium iodide, or KI, pills to all towns that requested them. In subsequent town meetings, most Cape towns voted overwhelmingly for resolutions to request the pills, which help prevent thyroid cancer in the event of a radioactive leak from a nuclear power plant.

"It's certainly taken a huge amount of public pressure to have the state implement this program," said Mary Lampert, director of Pilgrim Watch, a public safety group.

But just having the pills stored at town halls isn't enough, advance distribution is essential. The pills, which work by saturating the thyroid gland so it doesn't absorb radioactive iodide from a radioactive plume, must be taken before or immediately after exposure to a radioactive leak.

All over the Cape, towns are drawing up their plans. Orleans health agent Bob Canning said he is working with fire, school and town officials to develop a distribution plan for the 43,000 pills he recently received.

Brian Carlson, who is the health inspector in Provincetown, confirmed he has received a shipment of more than 120,000 doses which are being stores at the health department. Like many Cape health officials, he's waiting for directions from the state regarding distribution.

Paula Champagne, Harwich's health director, said the distribution plan she's working on for Harwich's 40,000 pills has an added benefit - it will be good practice for the distribution of other medicines in the event of other emergencies.

Some towns may be well-advised look to Duxbury when developing their distribution plans. Duxbury, located less than 10 miles from the Pilgrim nuclear power plant, was one of the first towns in Massachusetts to recognize the importance of having a supply of potassium iodide.

Tired of waiting for the state to provide potassium iodide, the town took matters into its own hands. Based on that experience, Lampert, who also serves as chairman of the town's nuclear advisory committee, offered advice for Cape towns.

She said Cape Cod towns must focus on regular public education so the public understands the issue.
If allergic to salt or seafood, you may be allergic to KI pills and should talk to the doctor. "All it is is a concentrated salt, so if you can eat at McDonald's don't worry," said Lampert.

Stockpiling the pills in schools is considered essential, as children are highly susceptible to thyroid cancer. "Potassium iodide needs to be distributed before or shortly after an accident," said Lampert, who keeps a supply of KI pills in her car, on her cruising sailboat, and in her medicine cabinet.
In the event of a radioactive plume, people are advised to shelter immediately in windowless interior rooms as far as possible from the roof.

"If there's an accident all you people can do is shelter. You can't evacuate." Lampert noted that with Plymouth evacuating, the traffic would be horrendous, and the bridges over the canal nearly impassable. What's more, she said, cars don't provide protection against radioactive plumes.
As part of the distribution plans, schools will probably seek medical releases from parents. In Duxbury's plan, children report to their homerooms where the school nurse distributes the pills according to a list prepared in advance.

Duxbury has even gone a step further. The town has purchased little paper masks for school children. According to Lampert, the simple masks shield out 90 percent of the radiation.

David Agnew, a Chatham resident who is a member of Cape Downwinders, a local group concerned about the risks of a nuclear accident, has cautioned about a false sense of security from KI pills. In a 2005 interview, he explained that KI pills are not a panacea. In the event of a nuclear melt down, "a whole host of radio nuclides or radioactive isotopes" would be released into the air. But the largest component in that cloud would be radioactive iodine.

Background:

State Legislation Potassium Iodide (KI) for Cape Cod and Cape Ann

For the first time in thirty years, Massachusetts has acknowledged that radiation doesn't stop at the bridge.

Chapter 425 of the Acts of 2002:
AN ACT RELATIVE TO NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 5K of chapter 111 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2000 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following 3 paragraphs:-
[Paragraph (F) as amended by 2003, 26, Sec. Effective July 1, 2003. See 2003, 26, Sec. 715. For text effective until July 1, 2003, see below.]
(F) The department of public health shall stockpile thyroid-blocking agents according to regulations promulgated by the department for cities and towns located within a 10 mile radius of a nuclear power plant. The department may make an assessment against the operator of each nuclear power plant in the commonwealth and electric companies in the commonwealth which own, in whole or in part, or purchase power from the Seabrook nuclear power plant. For purposes of this section, electric companies shall be defined as persons, firms, associations and private corporations who own or operate works or distribute electricity in the commonwealth; but the term electric companies shall not include municipalities or municipal light plants. The department may make a collection based on this assessment directly from the electric companies and deposit the monies into the Radiation Control Trust account.
(G) The department shall maintain supplies of thyroid-blocking agents according to regulations promulgated by the department for cities and towns located in Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties, as well as in the area known as Cape Ann in Essex County. This section shall take effect in any city or town in which its governing body votes to accept the stockpiling of thyroid-blocking agents. The department may make an assessment against the operator of each existing nuclear power plant in the commonwealth and electric companies in the commonwealth which own, in whole or in part, or purchase power from the Seabrook nuclear power plant. For purposes of this section, electric companies shall be defined as all persons, firms, associations and private corporations who own or operate works or distribute electricity in the commonwealth; but the term electric companies shall not include municipalities or municipal light plants. The department may make a collection based on this assessment directly from the electric companies and deposit the monies directly into the retained revenue account established by the department and used for nuclear power plant environmental monitoring activities.
(H) The department shall procure and maintain adequate supplies of potassium iodide tablets approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration for use in the emergency planning zones and in the areas known as Cape Ann in Essex county and Cape Cod and the Islands, which surround any nuclear power generating facility established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the event of an occurrence, incident or other abnormal circumstance involving the release of radiation or other radiological hazards that may have a significant adverse effect on the health or safety of the people of the commonwealth. A change in federal law with respect to funding the potassium iodide tablets shall in no event result in a liability to the commonwealth.
Approved December 24, 2002.

[Paragraph (F) was amended by 2003, 26, Sec. Effective July 1, 2003. See 2003, 26, Sec. 715. The text effective until July 1, 2003 follows.]

(F) The department of public health shall stockpile thyroid-blocking agents according to regulations promulgated by the department for cities and towns located within a 10 mile radius of a nuclear power plant. The department may make an assessment against the operator of each nuclear power plant in the commonwealth and electric companies in the commonwealth which own, in whole or in part, or purchase power from the Seabrook nuclear power plant. For purposes of this section, electric companies shall be defined as persons, firms, associations and private corporations who own or operate works or distribute electricity in the commonwealth; but the term electric companies shall not include municipalities or municipal light plants. The department may make a collection based on this assessment directly from the electric companies and deposit the monies into the retained revenue account established by the department and used for nuclear power plant environmental monitoring activities.


The law was passed in December 2002.

Where are the KI pills?

Where are the KI pills?    Cape Cod Times, July 13, 2005

By KEVIN DENNEHY
STAFF WRITER

Bulk supplies of a drug that would reduce health risks after a nuclear meltdown still haven't been delivered to the Cape and islands, more than two years after state law required potassium iodide for every community in the region.

For more than a year, the state Department of Public Health has been stalled because several towns were slow to formally request the supplies.

And now that all the requests are in - and the state is finally sending out a $371,000 bill - there's no assurance that Entergy Corp., the only nuclear plant owner in Massachusetts, will pay it.

For local leaders, who call the nonprescription drug a simple step to reduce risk if something were to go wrong at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, the delay has been utterly frustrating.

If taken within a few hours of the release of nuclear radiation, potassium iodide, or KI, can reduce the chances of thyroid cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children, infants and fetuses are particularly sensitive to thyroid disease.

Once the drugs are delivered to towns across the region, communities will keep them stored in schools and emergency centers.

But the towns are still waiting.

''The whole process has been painfully slow,'' said state Rep. Matthew Patrick, D-Falmouth, who pushed the original legislation. ''It's almost sad, really. Thank God we haven't had any accidents in the meantime.''

Potassium iodide essentially blocks the absorption of radioactive iodine by flooding the thyroid with non-radioactive iodine so there is no room for the radioactive molecules.

While potassium iodide would not protect humans from all threats of exposure to radioactivity, the National Academy of Sciences has recommended that the government make it available to all people under 40 who live near a nuclear power plant.

The state of Massachusetts already provides KI pills to communities within 10 miles of nuclear power plants.

Fifty-mile radius

But the post-9/11 legislation, signed by former Gov. Jane Swift, expanded the reach of the law to include towns on Cape Cod and the islands, which are up to 50 direct miles from the nuclear plant in Plymouth.

That coverage also includes Massachusetts towns on Cape Ann - including Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Essex - waterfront communities near the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire.

Before distributing the drugs, however, the state DPH wanted to have all communities on board to make the best use of bulk purchases.

''It's really inefficient to do this piecemeal, one community at a time,'' Suzanne Condon, director of DPH Center for Emergency Preparedness, said yesterday.

It has taken more than 1 years - and numerous letters - to sign up all 27 affected communities.

Only in the last few weeks did the state finally hear from Gloucester, the final town to respond.

With that, the DPH today will send the $371,000 bill to Entergy to cover the costs of the KI supplies, Condon said. About $345,000 of that would go for KI supplies on Cape Cod.

Condon had no comment on whether she expected Entergy to deliver payment. ''We're going to send the bill ... and we'll see what comes back.''

Entergy officials yesterday were noncommittal.

Times have changed since the legislation was approved just a couple of years ago, said Carol Wightman, a spokeswoman for the Pilgrim plant in Plymouth.

At that time, she said, most energy utilities in the state bought energy from Seabrook in New Hampshire. Now, they don't.

Bill goes to Entergy

And since Entergy owns the only nuclear plant in Massachusetts, the company would have to cover the bill, even though the Pilgrim plant is some 50 miles from Cape Ann.

''The entire burden for the funding of the KI would be placed on Entergy,'' Wightman said.

''We're looking at the current basis and validity of the assess-ment process being used for KI on the Cape and Seabrook,'' she said.

Some towns are getting impatient.

In Sandwich, for instance, it's been two years since town meeting voters endorsed the acceptance of KI tablets. And still nothing.

''We've been waiting here,'' said David Mason, the Sandwich health agent.

He says he has had several conversations with the state about the town's KI supplies.

''We've been told, 'It's coming. It's coming' ... It's something I think we'd like to have resolved.''

 


For more, please see http://www.nuclearrisk.com/?p=cd&f=whereiski

 

 

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