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What standards for iodine tablets?

November 7, 2012


Expert panel to discuss iodine tablet criteria

The Nuclear Regulation Authority plans to soon establish an expert panel to discuss the criteria for taking iodine tablets to prevent internal radiation exposure in the event of a nuclear accident, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Kayoko Nakamura, 62, an NRA commissioner in charge of disaster management measures, revealed the plan to The Yomiuri Shimbun on Monday. Nakamura also said she would like to establish domestic criteria on what level of radiation would necessitate resident evacuations.

The NRA decided on new nuclear disaster management guidelines on Oct. 31. Under the guidelines, key areas for disaster-preparedness measures were designated as those within a 30-kilometer radius of a nuclear power plant. The guidelines also stipulated that stable iodine tablets should be properly administered in the zone when an order to evacuate or remain indoors is issued.

Although it was determined that the NRA would decide when the tablets should be administered, the details of when people should be told to take the pills and by whom have yet to be resolved.

As a result, local municipalities near nuclear power plants are complaining that they are having difficulties drawing up their own regional disaster prevention plans--which the agency has requested they complete by March 2013--without knowing the standards for administering the tablets.

Members of the panel will be chosen from experts from the private sector who are knowledgeable about the effects of stable iodine tablets, such as radiologists. Because the pill is designated as a powerful medicine, issues such as how to manage it and accountability for side effects need to be addressed.

"If we deliberate on the details of administering [the pills] without an airtight plan, it could cause a panic like the one that occurred in Fukushima Prefecture. We will work out specifics, including which people will be asked to take the pills," Nakamura said.


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