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Residents within 5 km of Kyushu nuclear plant given iodine tablets

41 Comments

About 4,700 residents living within five kilometers of Kyushu Electric Co's Sendai plant in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, were given iodine tablets as a precautionary measure on Sunday.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved the upgraded design and safety features of the Sendai plant earlier this month, paving the way for its likely restart sometime in the fall.

The Kagoshima prefectural and Satsumasendai governments distributed the iodine tablets under the new guidelines drawn up by the NRA in 2012. Iodine tablets are used to protect thyroids from radiation.

The NRA guidelines recommend that those living within a 30-km radius of a nuclear crisis of the magnitude of that at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant should be given iodine as quickly as possible. The authority’s research suggests that this should reduce by about 20% radiation that comes into contact with the thyroid gland while breathing.

The recommendation was also made by the World Health Organization decades earlier. In a 1999 guideline, the WHO recommended the stockpiling of stable iodine. However, it added, “For adults over 40, the scientific evidence suggests that stable iodine prophylaxis not be recommended unless doses to the thyroid from inhalation are expected to exceed levels that would threaten thyroid function. This is because the risk of radiation induced thyroid carcinoma in this group is very low while, on the other hand, the risk of side effects increases with age.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is keen to start bringing the nation's 48 reactors back online as a prolonged shutdown forces Japan to rely on expensive fossil fuel imports for power.

All of Japan's nuclear reactors have been shut for safety overhauls since the 2011 disaster when a nuclear power plant at Fukushima was hit by an earthquake and tsunami.

However, the NRA still has to perform on-site operational checks and get the approval of local communities before the Sendaiu plant can be restarted. The plant was fast-tracked for safety approval by the NRA in March.

The NRA, an independent nuclear regulator set up after the Fukushima disaster, has been vetting restart applications from regional electric utilities for more than a year. Nine companies have applied to restart 19 reactors.

The blackout of nuclear plants, which supplied about one-third of Japan's electricity before Fukushima, has pushed several utilities to post three straight years of losses and has contributed to a record string of 23 months of trade deficits.

Kyushu Electric was forced to seek a 100 billion yen bailout from the state-backed Development Bank of Japan this year to shore up its battered finances.

© Japan Today/Thomson Reuters

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

41 Comments
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Oh yeah, but nuclear power is safe, right?

12 ( +18 / -6 )

What a joke. When will Japan learn the are not responsible enough to have nuclear power?

4 ( +14 / -10 )

****a little late

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Uhmmmm, aren't they a little too late???

1 ( +6 / -6 )

How about paying their relocation expenses, offering iodine tablets isn't really a sign of confidence....

8 ( +11 / -3 )

the NRA still has to perform on-site operational checks

... so what they're saying is that they haven't actually checked anything yet, but are still prepared to give them the green light?

Nothing changes but the date.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Better safe then sorry but seriously what a joke, "These pills will keep you safe in case we blow up again"... but don't worry we wont we passed the safety check!

5 ( +9 / -4 )

There are more ways to generate electricity , clean energy, these companies just want to make money

8 ( +13 / -5 )

And the detailed evacuation plans for all nuclear power stations are ready and waiting right Mr. Abe ? You've had 3.5 years to prepare these detailed evacuation plans and resettlement plans Mr. Abe, they are ready to protect us ,yes?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

"Anything in excess is a poison" I mean both radiation as well as Iodine tablets.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I don't understand. Why are they distributing iodine tablets? Kagoshima is thousands of kilometers away from Fukushima and I haven't heard of other problems in that area. It seems like an unnecessary risk to ingest iodine in this case.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Kyushu electric was forced to to seek 100 billion yen bailout. Who is forcing them and Is this another example of cheap nuclear energy?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

What do they know what we don't?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

jonobugs, this is in advance of restarting their local power plant. It has no problems at present, however, in the unlikely event of a catastrophic event, the people would have the iodine on hand to take immediately, instead of waiting for it to be dispersed.

7 ( +6 / -0 )

@chomskyite

'...detailed evacuation plans for all nuclear power stations are ready and waiting right Mr. Abe?'

They will be if Abe can get the ball rolling on re-interpreting more of the Constitution. One of the proposed changes is to be able to mobilize the SDF to prevent people from evacuating from an area if the government deems it to be unnecessary. So Abe could well have 'a plan' of sorts for such an eventuality. And, in this case, he can turn around and say 'Look, you've had your iodine pills, what are you moaning about? We simply can't afford any disruption to business as usual, so you will stay put because I say so' and he'll have an SDF perimeter around the area to ensure no vehicles can leave the area.

This is not how things are now, but if he starts illegally changing the Constitution based on some of the changes that have already been proposed he would be within his rights to implement such an order. The SDF for collective defense is not the only bouncing ball people should be following, it is further Constitutional reforms that may follow on its heels that could undermine the civil rights and safety of the people of Japan.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

100 Billion yen bailout?

You have a 100 Billion yen to bail someone out?

Most of us used to play Monopoly. I always owned Boardwalk with Hotels. I'd let someone stay in the game if they landed on it once. "Okay mortgage a few properties, downsize or give me all your railroads" Okay you can stay in the game.

You owe me 100 Billion yen?!?!? Game over!!! Put yourself in that "wheelbarrow" and get off my property!!

Game over!!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

If Japan does not learn from the past (Fukushima), history may repeat itself. After the Chernobyl disaster in April 1986, Polish children up to age 16 were given iodine doses to prevent absorption of radioactive iodine. For good measure, mothers scrubbed their children's heads

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Gee...just ask all of the British nuclear "experts" because they will tell you there is nothing to worry about. "The monkeys living near Fukushima power have low white blood cell counts due to something other than nuclear radiation..." Hence no need to take iodine. What a farce to read this from abroad...It only convinces me that I made the right decision to leave immediately after radiation reached the Tokyo water system around March 16, 2011, and then "miraculously' the water was deemed safe the next day. Ufffff

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Quite the vote of confidence!

Electric Company: "We're giving these out to you, despite you voting against our restarting the plant when we said we wouldn't if without your approval, for when we restart the plant. When there's a big quake and the plant explodes, please take them -- you'll have a 20% less chance of thyroid cancer than if you don't. Oh, yes, not to worry! We plan to have the appropriate safety precautions in place at a minimum of a few years after they are needed for the restart. You simply MUST understand -- we are trying to get back to major profits as we execs have suffered oh so much the past few years!"

6 ( +11 / -5 )

"Electric Company: "We're giving these out to you, despite you voting against our restarting the plant when we said we wouldn't if without your approval, for when we restart the plant. When there's a big quake and the plant explodes, please take them -- you'll have a 20% less chance of thyroid cancer than if you don't. Oh, yes, not to worry! We plan to have the appropriate safety precautions in place at a minimum of a few years after they are needed for the restart. You simply MUST understand -- we are trying to get back to major profits as we execs have suffered oh so much the past few years!""

ONNNN POINT...the poor Japanese sheeples of Japan: framed in racism, and disdain; shaped by inequity...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Only good for initial releases of radioactive Iodine 131, which makes up perhaps 3% of emissions in a nuclear meltdown.

Quote from Wiki: "Iodine tablets do not act as a generic countermeasure against radiation exposure. They are only effective as a means to reduce exposure to iodine-131. Taking them more than 90 days after an accident has no effect, since iodine-131 will have completely decayed by then. They do not protect against external X-ray, gamma or beta irradiation or the ingestion of radioactive substances other than isotopes of iodine."

5 ( +6 / -1 )

How reassuring! On with the Mighty Atom! JHC, you HAVE to be joking? Right?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I don´t get all the cynicism here. Distributing iodine pills as precautionary measure is standard procedure in other countries. E.g. in Switzerland, everybody who moves to an area near a nuclear power station gets this, together with an explanatory leaflet. So from that, some posters here conclude that "Switzerland is not mature enough to have nuclear power"`? It is just a safety measure, just like ships have life vests. Jeesus.

4 ( +12 / -7 )

An utterly meaningless gesture.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Let me see the government is giving out iodine pills something is wrong! The real story is not being told or perhaps are they being part of a government experiment?

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

How about the government guarantee that, in the event of another nuclear accident, anyone living in an evacuation zone can immediately receive compensation from the government of at least double the value of their land and property in the evacuation zone?

Instead, the residents get a few Yen's worth of pills and nothing else. That's what happens when you vote in a LDP government.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Nuclear power is not only essential for the Japanese economy to stay afloat (unless they take down all those neon signs and switch of the AC), but it's also one of the safest and most environmentally friendly forms of power.

Giving out these pills seems foolish - almost akin to scaremongering. Maybe having medical centers stock them would be ok.

I think the pills have been given out because this plant has passed safety checks and they are going to be switching it back on. On-site operational checks by the NRA can only be done once the plant is 'operational'.

I see no issue here apart from the distributions of the tablets. If something went wrong then 5km is too small a zone. People will probably start taking them habitually which could cause health issues in itself (not sure)... but more than that it's a misguided move to instil confidence which will cause panic instead.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Ok another poster has correctly outlined which radiation these pills are for & which radiation will nail you regardless!

And its generally agreed that people living within 25-30km of a nuke plane have these pills as a matter of course JUST in case!

NOW Japan suddenly deems 5km sufficient.............. WTF

As usual the authorities are obviously VERY willing to play roulette with the general populace at large

Some things never change!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When it is stated the Japanese don't have the maturity to have nuclear energy; it is the same as saying that they don't possess the intelligence to do so. On the terms of nuclear safety in the US; do we not forget about Three Mile Island? After decades of near melt downs they finally came up with an evacuation plan. Put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye. The problems with nukes seems to be deliberately kept out of the news, but are we that much better in dealing with nukes?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There are more ways to generate electricity , clean energy, these companies just want to make money

Imagine that, a company that wants to make money. Doesn't that describe just about every company?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Don't know how the limit was decided but judging the way the radiation spread from the nukes of hazard in Fukushima, the limit should be 30 km and probably 50 km. I'm not sure even handing them out is the best answer since they will also have a shelf life?

The important question, has the evacuation plans been updated since the nukes of hazard and have the people been informed of them. Do the people know what to do in an emergency.

Kyushu electric still needs the local approval before restarts can happen?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Distributing iodine pills as precautionary measure is standard procedure in other countries.

Indeed. Apparently some posters don't know it. Anyway, I'm against nuclear power everywhere, not only in Japan. It's too dangerous.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

After 3/11 the Japanese authorities were so unsure of the situation, large radioactive clouds passed over large groups of people but they were not told-if information is not given to the population before contamination then these pills are useless!!!!

Having seen the way in which Fukushima was handled by the government here, I have zero confidence in any official government information.

Living next to a nuclear facility in Japan is akin to playing Russian Roulette....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I suppose if I was back in Japan, an earthquake prone country full of nuclear reactors, I'd have iodine tablets on me at any rate. Go go geothermal, solar, everything else. You have the engineers, you have a public yearning for change. Japanese researchers are all over the world in graduate schools doing great things. The re-energizing of Japan would be a worthy project

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'm all for having things on hand in case of emergency, but I have a few questions:

Do the people receiving these tablets know they are NOT supposed to take them unless there is an accident at the plant that causes a release of the Iodine-131 isotope? I foresee a bunch of residents taking the pills every time the failure of a piece of equipment causes a SCRAM, which normally causes no radiation leakage at all. OR I see a bunch of residents taking them starting as soon as they receive them, like vitamins.

Do these pills have a shelf life and does the electric company plan to replace all the pills before they expire?
0 ( +0 / -0 )

When it is stated the Japanese don't have the maturity to have nuclear energy; it is the same as saying that they don't possess the intelligence to do so.

Exactly, it's basically racist. One thing is being against nuclear power in general, like me; another is to think that only Japanese are not able to handle it.

On the terms of nuclear safety in the US; do we not forget about Three Mile Island?

And what about this? http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-oil-drilling-radioactive-20140727-story.html#page=1

""The waste is, in fact, toxic," said one company manager, who like others in the group, requested anonymity for fear of losing his job. North Dakota "will see 12,000 more slop pits, some on top of known aquifers, in the next decade, seething with who-knows-what — then abandoned."

And many Americans think they are better than Japanese...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“The NRA guidelines recommend that those living within a 30-km radius of a nuclear crisis of the magnitude of that at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant should be given iodine as quickly as possible. The authority’s research suggests that this should reduce by about 20% radiation that comes into contact with the thyroid gland while breathing.”

Use iodine as radioactive shield to a protect deemed harms , NRA must be kidding.

I am feeling sorry for these unfortunate residents who live close to Kyushu nuclear plant and are lack of means to move away. Frankly speaking, they are potential victims of collateral damage resulting from Abe’s nuclear policy which cares little about ordinary people's lifehood and live so to speak.

It's absolutley a shame.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Clean energy sources like solar and wind can only provide a small fraction of the electricity being used... when it is cloudy or there is no wind, you get even less. Not every country has access to hydroelectric power and building dams comes with its own environmental consequences... look at China to get an idea of how bad air pollution will get if we shut down all nuclear and switch to only fossil fuels for electricity production. If not nuclear, then you better get used to hand cranked mobile phones & radios, and rolling blackouts... say goodbye to FB, Twitter, and all social media.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The iodine is a temporary measure, but you still have to get out of town, maybe permanently. But it's not just the Japanese. The US and Russia have both had disasters.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As the shelf life for these tablets is 6 to 7 years, can we assume the government will continue to supply the public forever and will new comers be given them in a "Welcome to the neighbourhood." kit? http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/emerg-preparedness/about-emerg-preparedness/potassium-iodide/ki-faq.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Teddy Lim Clean energy sources like solar and wind can only provide a small fraction of the electricity being used... when it is cloudy or there is no wind, you get even less. Not every country has access to hydroelectric power and building dams comes with its own environmental consequences... look at China

Yes you are right

Even in Russia

where we have huge amount of coal oil gas and lot of hydropower

and population almost like in Japan - 145 millions Russia / 126 Japan

we building new nuclear power plants

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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