Safety prescription

 
Published: Friday 31 October 2003

Lucas Heights reactor: high-ri (Credit: GREENPEACE)A ustralian authorities finally appear to be wising up to the nuclear risk. The State Emergency Management Committee of New South Wales has recommended the pre-distribution of iodine tablets to residents of areas lying along the transportation routes of nuclear waste from the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney.

Fearing unwarranted panic, the government of New South Wales had earlier shot down plans to distribute the pills. The recent suggestion by the panel was made during a state enquiry into the transportation and storage of nuclear waste. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (arpansa), a federal government agency, also favours the pre-distribution of iodine tablets to homes and schools within a 5-kilometre radius of the plant.

Iodine tablets were used to contain radiation sickness in children residing near the site of the Chernobyl disaster in Russia. The pills work to block the thyroid's exposure to radioactive iodine, thus preventing cancer of the gland.

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