26 January 2014
Switzerland: 4.6 Million Inhabitants Will Receive Iodine
AR.G.with ats, Tribune de Genève, 23 January 2014
The Federal Council is drawing lessons from Fukushima. It is tripling the number of persons who will receive iodine. Vaud is concerned.
The preventive distribution of iodine in order to combat the effects of a nuclear accident will be considerably expanded in Switzerland. The Federal Council yesterday widened the perimeter of distribution to persons living within a radius of 50 kilometers from a nuclear plant, instead of the current 20 kilometers. The area includes Moudon and Yvonand but not Yverdon; 4.6 million persons will thus receive a stock of iodine tablets, three times the 1.2 million citizens currently concerned. The distribution will begin next fall. Who will take charge of this? “It will be done through the post,” says Daniel Dauwalder, spokesperson at the Federal Office for Public Health. How much will it cost? 30 million francs [$33.5 million], all to be borne by the operators of nuclear plants.
Each adult and child will receive a box of 12 pills which keeps for 10 years. The stock of the population living within a radius of 20 kilometers of a nuclear plant soon approaching expiry will be replaced at the same time.
Many people work far away from their home. Tablets will equally be distributed to companies located less than 50 kilometers from a nuclear plant. Up until now, iodine for persons residing more than 20 kilometers from a nuclear plant were stocked in decentralized manner in the cantons.
In case of a nuclear accident, it must be distributed to the population within 12 hours. As this distribution would be very difficult in large population centers such as Zurich, Basel and Lucerne, stocks will also be distributed preventively in these regions.
Iodine tablets protect the thyroid in case of a major nuclear accident liberating radioactivity. Taken in time, they prevent inhaled radioactive iodine from accumulating in the thyroid gland, which can cause cancer.