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News Release

 
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
  June 19, 2002

 

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
DHSS - Dennis McGowan: 609-984-7160
DEP - Elaine Makatura: 609-292-9289
State Police - Capt. Kevin Hayden: 609-538-6051



State Unveils Potassium Iodide Distribution Plan


TRENTON - Health, Environmental Protection and State Police officials today unveiled New Jersey's plan for distributing potassium iodide to people living, working or visiting areas within 10 miles of the state's four nuclear generating stations.

The plan calls for distributing a one-day supply of potassium iodide, scientifically referred to as KI, to all interested residents and workers in Cumberland, Ocean and Salem Counties within 10 miles of the nuclear power plants in Ocean and Salem Counties - the Emergency Planning Zones (EPZs). Public education and distribution sessions will be held in the counties beginning in mid-July, the target date for distributing the one-day KI supply.

KI offers a degree of cancer protection to the thyroid gland in cases of a release and exposure to radioactive iodine. If taken before or shortly after radiological exposure, potassium iodide blocks the thyroid gland's ability to absorb radioactive iodine.

Under the plan unveiled today, the pills will also be available at designated locations in Ocean, Salem and Cumberland Counties to be given to visitors, residents and workers in the event of a radiological release. As an interim measure, reserve stockpiles of the pills that can be moved quickly within the affected counties or any area of the state have been established.

The plan was developed by an inter-agency workgroup and members of 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 the state's health care system is prepared to effectively respond to acts of terrorism, disease outbreaks, natural disasters and other emergencies.

"We have made KI an integral part of our comprehensive emergency prevention and response plan because it has proven health benefits and limited risk," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. "Our hope is that we will never have to use the pills, but we are now prepared should the need arise."

Dr. Lacy added, "Distributing KI pills now is strictly a preparedness measure. We are not responding to any imminent danger or threat."

"Making KI pills available provides an added level of protection to the at risk population in a worst-case scenario during evacuation," said Bradley M. Campbell, DEP Commissioner. "I applaud Commissioner Lacy's foresight and will continue to work with the Department to protect our citizens."

Captain Kevin Hayden, Deputy State Director, State Office of Emergency Management, Division of State Police, said "that the State Office of Emergency Management in cooperation with allied state agencies will continue our long standing cooperative efforts with Federal, County and local officials with regard to the planning, training and exercising requirements of this policy. We will continue outreach efforts to the affected utilities, government officials, and citizens in the Emergency Protective Zones to assure an effective and comprehensive implementation of this policy."

New Jersey currently has a supply of 722,000 KI pills, which it received free-of-charge from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in April. The State will be working with local and county officials to publicize the KI distribution schedule.

In total, 33 states and 1 Native American nation within 10-mile EPZs around nuclear power plants were offered a supply of KI by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The pills were made available at no charge to states on a first-come, first-serve basis. New Jersey was the 11th state to accept the offer.

"KI pills are not a panacea," said Dr. Lacy. "While the pills offer protection of the thyroid from radioactive iodine, they offer no protection to the body from other injuries due to radiation exposure. Evacuation and sheltering are the primary modes of protection in a radiological emergency."

The Office of Emergency Management within the Division of State Police, in collaboration with the Departments of Health and Senior Services and Environmental Protection and county and local health and emergency management officials, will manage New Jersey's KI distribution plan.

# # #

Note: KI pills are being made available to residents and workers in the following municipalities that encompass the 10-mile EPZs: Greenwich and Stow Creek in Cumberland County; Elsinboro, Lower Alloways Creek, Mannington, Quinton, Pennsville and Salem City in Salem County; and Barnegat, Barnegat Light, Beachwood, Berkeley, Dover, Harvey Cedars, Island Heights, Lacey, Long Beach, Pine Beach, Ocean, Ocean Gate, Seaside Park, Ship Bottom, South Toms River, Stafford and Surf City in Ocean County.

 
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Department of Health and Senior Services
P. O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

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