Belgium's Government to Hand Out Iodine Pills In Case of Nuclear Attack
Belgium is revising its nuclear emergency plan. The country’s health minister recently told a newspaper that the government will be issuing iodine pills, used to combat radiation sickness, to residents, according to AFP.
Belgium has seven nuclear power reactors, though officials plan on phasing out its nuclear energy infrastructure over the next decade. Earlier this year, neighboring Germany asked Belgium to shut down two 40-year-old power plants near the German border, due to what the German environmental minister called “outstanding security issues” like metal degradation. Belgian officials refused, arguing that the nuclear plants fall within the strictest safety standards. Still, officials aren't taking chances when it comes to citizens' health.
The Belgian government already provides iodine pills to residents within a 14-mile radius of those power plants. (Iodine prevents radiation from being absorbed by the thyroid gland, combating the danger of radiation exposure.) But the new plan would extend the radius of iodine-prevention coverage to more than 60 miles around the two aging plants, putting virtually all Belgian citizens within the emergency-plan zone.
Unfortunately, iodine pills may not be enough, according to the BBC. While the pills protect the thyroid against some effects, they don't ward off some radioactive elements, such as caesium-137.