In the event of a nuclear disaster in the U.S., many residents do not have radiation-reducing medication

Flickr photo by fragglerawker_03

Things in Japan haven’t gotten any better. Yesterday’s explosion at unit 2 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant heightened our fears about widespread radiation emanating from the site.

Despite the dangers of these reactors overseas, nobody has yet put the brakes on reactor plans in the U.S. (Perhaps that’s because the nuclear industry donates heavily to political campaigns, both to Democrats and Republicans.) It’s like we’re asking for trouble.

To make matters even worse, in nine states that have nuclear power plants (comprising nearly a third of states with nuclear plants), residents living near the reactors don’t have the protection of federally-supplied potassium iodide pills for treatment in the event of a radiation crisis like that in Japan.

These potassium iodide tablets, known as KI, are non-prescription iodine pills. “In normal times, iodine — a natural substance — is stored in the human thyroid gland. During a nuclear accident, dangerous amounts of radioactive iodine can be released into the air and accumulate in the thyroid. The KI pills are used to fill the thyroid with safe iodine, reducing the risk of cancer and other diseases,” the Center for Public Integrity reports.

UPDATE: The two companies that make the iodide pills have been from people across the country who fear a nuclear crisis.

Although these pills could certainly help people in the event of a nuclear catastrophe, they are by no means a panacea. Nuclear energy is not a safe option to meet our energy needs.

Despite claims to the contrary by the nuclear industry and some elected officials, there is no way to guarantee the public’s safety when a natural disaster or terrorism strikes our commercial reactors.

Public Citizen has worked to oppose nuclear power for four decades. Join our efforts by signing a petition to end subsidies for the nuclear industry. Instead, we can use our taxpayer-funded resources to develop clean, safe, alternative energy options.