Tablet handout for homes near N-plant

TABLETS to be used in the event of a serious accident at the Sizewell nuclear power plants are to be distributed for the second time to those living or working nearby.

TABLETS to be used in the event of a serious accident at the Sizewell nuclear power plants are to be distributed for the second time to those living or working nearby.

A supply of potassium iodate tablets are due to be given out at a series of clinics at the beginning of June.

The pills help prevent the thyroid gland absorbing radioactive material and are designed to be used in the event of a major nuclear accident.

The exercise has prompted anti-nuclear campaigners to renew their call for the closure of the site.

The tablets were first distributed two years ago to those living and working within a 2.4km radius of the Sizewell A and B site, including part of Leiston as well as Sizewell village, and the current stock is now due for replacement.

But it is expected that the new pills will have a longer shelf-life and will not need to be distributed again for another four or five years.

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There are approximately 200 properties within the 2.4km zone, and around 500 people are set to receive the pills.

Previously, the tablets were stored at sites ready to be distributed in the event of an emergency, but it was decided two years ago that they should be handed out to residents while still maintaining a store.

The distribution next month is being organised by Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts along with British Energy and British Nuclear Group.

Director of Public Health Dr Amanda Jones explained that the radius for distributing the tablets was in accordance with national guidelines.

"The bottom line is you go according to the national boundary that's supposed to be the furthest extent after which the levels go back to the natural levels," she said.

"We would not be thinking of changing that."

The chances of ever having to use the pills was "infinitesimal", she said.

When the pills were last distributed, she had "lots of correspondence" with Dunwich Parish Meeting about the availability of them at pharmacies to residents outside the zone, she said.

They had been concerned that the pills were only available in large, expensive packs, but the manufacturers had since agreed to sell smaller blister packs, which were available for under £20, she said.

Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, described the measure as "laughable", and pointed out that the pills did not provide protection against various types of radiation.

"It's just a bluff in order to keep the locals happy, because the PCTs know and we know that there is no defence against a major accident involving major discharges from nuclear power plants," he said.

"The only solution is to close them all down."

Kelvin Laybourne, Suffolk County Council emergency planning officer said: "Even though it does not provide full protection for the public because it's not an anti-radiation pill, it does provide enhanced protection to particular groups such as children and the elderly from a specific type of radiation. Therefore, we think it's a sensible measure to take.

Three clinics are set to run at the Sizewell Sports and Social Club on Thursday, June 2, from 5pm to 9pm, Friday, June 3, from 5pm to 9pm and Saturday, June 4, from 9am to 1pm.

Residents and businesses affected will be sent a letter in the next few days informing them of the clinics and inviting them to attend.

People can collect the tablets in person, or can authorise someone else to do so on their behalf. If for any reason people are unable to obtain their supply other arrangements can be made for them.

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