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Joint Press Release Regarding the Distribution of Potassium Iodide to North Carolina Residents within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone of McGuire and Catawba Nuclear Power Plant

Gaston County, NC - The five Public Health Departments surrounding McGuire Nuclear Power Plant (Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, and Mecklenburg) are providing an update regarding the distribution of potassium iodide (KI) for residents and employers within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) of the McGuire Nuclear Power Plant.  This update is also for North Carolina residents and employers within the 10-mile EPZ of Catawba Nuclear Power Plant.  The five Public Health Departments recommend residents and employers within the 10-mile radius of a Nuclear Power Plant keep their current supply of KI for emergency use.

The most recent distribution of KI tablets was provided by the five County Health Departments in September 2014 and has a current expiration date of April 2020. Due to widespread delays with the shipment of new KI tablets, local Public Health authorities have not received additional tablets for distribution from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

 According to the Food and Drug Administration, studies confirm that none of the components of KI tablets, including the active ingredient, are significantly reduced when stored according to labeled directions. Therefore, KI tablets are naturally stable, do not lose their effectiveness over time, and remains usable. Based on this evidence and previous practices, the five County Public Health Departments recommend residents and employers within the 10-mile EPZ radius of a Nuclear Power Plant to keep their current supply of KI for emergency use until an additional supply becomes available.  Local public authorities in the five counties will notify residents of new KI supplies and/or additional information when received from the NRC.  As of April 29, 2020, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has communicated to the five local public health departments the following information: “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has informed NC DHHS, they are experiencing delays with obtaining new KI pills to replace the existing stockpile.  NRC expressed the delivery of tablets will occur at a later date.”  A release will be provided once the new supply is available and ready for distribution.

Should residents and/or employers prefer to obtain new KI, it is available for purchase at several online retailers.  When the new KI supply is received, the five counties will provide the KI pills to the public that live and work in the 10-mile EPZ of nuclear power plants.

Potassium Iodide, also known by its chemical symbol, KI, is an over-the-counter medication that can protect the thyroid, if someone is exposed to radioactive iodine during a radiological emergency. If taken at the appropriate time and at the proper dosage, KI fills the thyroid with stable iodine to prevent radioactive iodine from being absorbed, therefore reducing the risk of possible damage of the thyroid. While KI is recommended for any radiological emergency, evacuation remains the best course of action for protecting your health.

Please be advised that any KI that has been inadvertently opened from the blister pack, moisture damage on the package or has turned yellow (indicating it hasn’t been stored in accordance with labeled directions) should be discarded.

  In the event of a radiological emergency, you will be advised through the Emergency Alert System of the protective actions you should take. KI should be kept in a safe, accessible location and should only be taken when instructed by State or County Public Health authorities. Do not take KI before advised to do so by public health authorities.

For more information, please visit The United Nuclear Regulatory Commission webpage.

Catawba County Health Department 828-695-5800

Gaston County Health Department 704-853-5200

Iredell County Health Department 704-878-5300

Lincoln County Health Department 704-735-3001

Mecklenburg County Health Department 704-517-8046