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Earth Medicine Security Science

All Belgians To Be Given Iodine Pills In Case Of Nuclear Accident (phys.org) 192

mdsolar quotes a report from Phys.Org: Belgium is to provide iodine pills to its entire population of around 11 million people to protect against radioactivity in case of a nuclear accident, the health minister was quoted as saying Thursday. The move comes as Belgium faces growing pressure from neighboring Germany to shutter two ageing nuclear power plants near their border due to concerns over their safety. Iodine pills, which help reduce radiation build-up in the human thyroid gland, had previously only been given to people living within 20 kilometres (14 miles) of the Tihange and Doel nuclear plants. Health Minister Maggie De Block was quoted by La Libre Belgique newspaper as telling parliament that the range had now been expanded to 100 kilometers, effectively covering the whole country. The health ministry did not immediately respond to AFP when asked to comment. The head of Belgium's French-speaking Green party, Jean-Marc Nollet, backed the measures but added that "just because everyone will get these pills doesn't mean there is no longer any nuclear risk," La Libre reported. Belgium's creaking nuclear plants have been causing safety concerns for some time after a series of problems ranging from leaks to cracks and an unsolved sabotage incident. Yesterday, a nuclear plant in Germany was reportedly infected with a computer virus.
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All Belgians To Be Given Iodine Pills In Case Of Nuclear Accident

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  • ISIS much? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2016 @10:49PM (#52010827)

    I highly doubt the failure of a Belgian nuclear plan will come as an accident. They're afraid of terrorist attacks on their nuclear plants, and are preparing by handing out iodine pills instead of eliminating the underlying threat.

    • But it is much cheaper to hand out iodine pills rather than deal with the terrorists or even to properly maintain an aging reactor.
    • Re:ISIS much? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday April 29, 2016 @02:21AM (#52011343)

      They're afraid of terrorist attacks on their nuclear plants, and are preparing by handing out iodine pills instead of eliminating the underlying threat.

      You can never completely eliminate all threats. The potassium iodide tablets are a cheap and effective precaution. I have a vial of KI that cost me $2. If they buy them in bulk, they could cost far less than that. They can probably do this for less than a euro per household. So why not?

    • by dave420 ( 699308 )

      You are basing your doubts on guesses. If you would stop being so scared of ISIS and look at the safety records of the plants in question, you'd see it's not some scary ISIS guys they're scared of.

      You are indeed an anonymous coward.

    • Rueters urges all nuclear plants be under international security control. http://blogs.reuters.com/great... [reuters.com]
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday April 28, 2016 @11:22PM (#52010949)

    You don't use iodine pills to commit suicide!

  • Do I take radiation pills for an iodine accident?

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday April 29, 2016 @12:12AM (#52011065)
    Most of the "green" credit in politics here comes from shutting down stuff that has reached it's end of life anyway or getting close to it and getting free publicity for something that would be done anyway. Keeping that old plant going would mean serious rebuilds. Remember it's not just reactors - there's a lot of pipework under stress that doesn't last forever.
    The real decision was made years ago because you can't have a civilian nuclear industry without building a reactor every few years so that the skillsets are not lost - so the choice was made to halt and we're seeing nothing but the tail of what was. Outside India, China and Russia the civilian nuclear industry is effectively dead and would require a very expensive restart before anything better than early 1980s technology (AP1000) can happen.
    • The extra fun is the pipework inside the reactor: It's not much of a power plant if you don't have a heat exchange loop set up so that you can actually use the reactor's heat output to run the turbines; but anything short of unobtanium does not react well to being brutally irradiated; and (unlike the outer housing/shielding) space constraints don't let you use the "Yeah, so just make it thicker, idiot..." technique to make the piping last longer. Plus, you can't just send a plumber in to swap out a defectiv
  • by cyber-vandal ( 148830 ) on Friday April 29, 2016 @12:37AM (#52011121) Homepage

    It's perfectly safe and anyone who disagrees is a tree-hugging enviro whack-job!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

      Nothing's perfectly safe. But on the scale of safeness nuclear is headed and shoulders above most other forms of power generation which have both a higher headcount and higher environmental impact.

      • Nuclear is far more immediately damaging than fossil fuels and the problems tend to be more notice and more damaging. I'm sure the people of Chernobyl would rather they'd lived next to an oil refinery or a coal mine. Their children wouldn't still be being born with deformities 30 years after an explosion in one of those. Nuclear waste has to be buried in concrete bunkers. Does oil or coal residue? How dangerous is solar or wind in comparison?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Care to reference any credible source about these deformities? In reality, they are having a hard time finding any adverse health effects to the populations around Chernobyl. I know, you will call that just a conspiracy and that all the deformities are kept secret, only to be revealed by some guy with a website.. right?
        • by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Friday April 29, 2016 @08:37AM (#52012395) Homepage
          You are an idiot. Coal and fossil fuel energy plants kill more people than nuclear plant, including the Chernobyl accident. Nuclear energy is safer than any other form of energy production, including hydro-electricity. A coal energy plant releases in the atmosphere more radioactive material than all the nuclear plants combined.
  • by umafuckit ( 2980809 ) on Friday April 29, 2016 @01:16AM (#52011205)
    This has been the case in Switzerland [www.naz.ch] for some time [ign.org]. You get them when you first move to a "danger area". Then you rapidly forget where you've put them.
  • Given that Brussels, where the EU bigheads find themselves fairly often, is in Belgium this would appear to include them as well.

    Wonder how long it'll be before the EU puts pressure on BE to actually make safe (however that needs to be done) the reactors in question.

  • This must be the thinking of the early nuclear days of around 1945. Iodine pills will cause your thyroid gland to absorb the iodine from the pills, rather than radiated iodine from the environment (water, food, etc). That's great, because you don't want your thyroid going all super-mutant on you. But, radiation can have bad effects on you in more ways than messing up your thyroid! It would seem to me that if there were a nuclear incident, it would be better to evacuate, than to just sit there and take a cou
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Firethorn ( 177587 )

      But, radiation can have bad effects on you in more ways than messing up your thyroid!

      Most of the other radioactive elements don't bio-accumulate like iodine does. They also don't concentrate quite so easily. So the pills are to prevent you from picking the iodine while they get you out and perform the other necessary decontamination.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Friday April 29, 2016 @01:51AM (#52011283) Journal

    I'm usually in either Silicon Valley or western Nevada.

    After Fukishima, but before the fallout cloud got here, I tried to get some iodine supplement pills, to load up on non-radioactive iodine before the cloud arrived.

    Couldn't do it.

    There were no iodine supplements in the drug stores, or the health-food stores.

    Also no tincture of iodine, iodine-based water purification tablets at the camping stores (where it used to be available as a water purifier - and has since been replace by other chemicals, ultrafilters, and backpack-sized pressure-cookers.)

    (Even iodized salt was hard to find - and would have been poisonous at the necessary levels absent major iodine extraction.)

    A compounding pharmacy offered to make up some - for an exorbatant fee - but they didn't have potassium iodide or other iodine compounds in stock. They would have had to back-order it, and the pills would have taken a month (while the fallout cloud would arrive in a couple days.

    WTF?

    Turns out that it's a casualty of the Drug War. Iodine is used in some street-drug manufacturing process. So (like pseudoephedrine) the government has imposed massive red tape on sales to the general population. These make it unprofitable, so the major outlets have all dropped it and moved on to other things.

    Many months later I heard someone being interviewed on a conservative talk radio show, suggesting that the government should stock iodine supplements around the country and make them available on a moment's notice for protection from radiological attacks and other events - and for people to stock them themselves. He and the host were lamenting that the stupid bureaucrats wouldn't take such an obvious preventative measure. If I hadn't been on my way to work at the time I'd have called in and told them "It's the Drug War, stupid!"

    • There were no iodine supplements in the drug stores, or the health-food stores.

      This website has iodine pills, and lots of other stuff: amazon.com [amazon.com].

    • That must be a California thing. Around here, iodine tincture is readily available in drug stores, Walmart, etc. Don't know about KI tablets or water purification tablets, since I've never bothered looking, but those are both readily available on the internet. I imagine they could have sold out during the panic, but if I ordered today, Amazon could get me either by tomorrow.

    • Just eat a bunch of seaweed.
    • What are you talking about? Iodine pills are readily available at every CVS and Walgreens. And there was no fallout cloud. Another nutjob.
  • by Halo1 ( 136547 ) on Friday April 29, 2016 @02:32AM (#52011371)

    Until now, everyone living within 20km of a nuclear power plant had to have immediate access to iodine pills. The High Council for Health (a scientific body responsible for giving advice concerning health regulations to the government) has advised to increased this radius to 100km, and the government has followed this advice. Everyone in Belgium lives within 100km of a Belgian, Dutch or French nuclear power plant. Hence, iodine pills for everyone.

  • We have had these pills for as long as i can remember, the only difference is that now everyone gets them, not just hose living close to the nuclear plants or research centers. But since this is a tiny country it's only a small part of the population that didn't already have them.

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