Newburyport Residents Make Rush On Potassium Iodide Pills

By Beth Germano, WBZ-TV

NEWBURYPORT (CBS) — There’s a new demand for radiation-blocking pills in the city of Newburyport, in the wake of Japan’s nuclear disaster. 

Plum Island resident Jack Van Loan just went to city hall to refresh his supply of potassium iodide tablets because he lives within a ten mile radius of the Seabrook Nuclear power plant, and worries that accidents can happen. 

“Only in the worst case scenario. But I live here knowing the plant is only six miles away,” he said. 

Residents in all communities within the ten mile radius are entitled to the pills, which are supplied by the state. Potassium iodide can protect people from radiation-induced thyroid cancer in the event of an emergency.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports.

Newburyport’s board of health director Bob Bracey says he’s never received any calls about the pills until last Friday.

“I think people see the news media, the sense of fear going on around the world.  People have a sense of comfort knowing they have it,” Bracey said. 

The news of the earthquake and tsunami heavily damaging Japan’s reactors, causing a radiation leak, has caught the public’s attention.  Some see it as a wake-up call that suddenly prompted at least 100 calls to Bracey’s city hall office.  He says there is an ample supply of 1,100 pills, and at least 200 have been distributed so far. 

Jack Van Loan says the script for Seabrook may never be the same as Japan but believes “it doesn’t take a tsunami to have an accident, there are other ways it can possibly happen.” 

The pills, he says, are just insurance.

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