Jersey has received a free supply of 722,000 potassium iodide pills
from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and will soon announce how
the radiation protection pills will be distributed to people living,
working or visiting areas near nuclear power plants, said Health
and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
iodide, scientifically referred to as KI, offers cancer protection
to the thyroid gland in cases of a radiological release. If taken
before or shortly after radiological exposure, KI blocks the thyroid
gland's ability to absorb radioactive iodine.
how best to distribute the pills is the Medical Emergency and Disaster
Prevention and Response Expert Panel (MEDPREP), a group of top New
Jersey health experts formed in November by then Governor-elect
James E. McGreevey to ensure New Jersey's health care system is
prepared to effectively respond to acts of terrorism, disease outbreaks,
natural disasters and other emergencies. Commissioner Lacy chairs
the panel that will issue its recommendations to the Governor next
protect the health and security of New Jersey families, Governor
McGreevey has made a major budget commitment in the areas of bioterrorism
preparedness, while ensuring the state lives within its means,"
said Dr. Lacy. "Making KI pills available to those within 10
miles of nuclear power plants is one of the steps we are taking
to keep New Jersey safe. The Governor has dedicated $25 million
to ensuring that New Jersey has an agile, coordinated public health
system for prevention of and response to health threats related
to acts of terrorism."
total, 33 states and 1 Native American nation within 10-mile Emergency
Planning Zones (EPZ) around nuclear power plants have been offered
a free supply of KI by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The pills
were made available free-of-charge to states on a first-come, first-serve
basis for distribution to individuals within those zones. New Jersey,
the 11th state to accept the offer, has two qualified EPZs around
plants in Ocean and Salem Counties.
KI pills is a preparedness and prevention measure. We are not aware
of any imminent danger or threat," said Dr. Lacy. "We
have accepted the pills because they work, are available and are
free, and because they are an integral part of our comprehensive
preparedness plan. Our hope is that we will never have to use them."
Lacy cautioned that KI pills are not a panacea, saying "while
the pills offer protection of the thyroid, they offer no protection
from other injuries due to radiological exposure. Evacuation and
sheltering are still the primary modes of protection in a radiological
Jersey's supply of 722,000 KI pills is enough for two pills to all
persons who live, work or vacation within 10 miles of the nuclear
power plants in Ocean and Salem Counties. The number of pills needed
was decided based on the peak populations.
Jersey's KI distribution plan will be managed by the Office of Emergency
Management within the Division of State Police, in collaboration
with the Departments of Health and Senior Services and Environmental