An idea sprouts in Brussels

Belgium, which needs to get at least another decade out of its nuclear power plants, will address the possibility of catastrophic failure proactively, sort of:

The Belgian government has agreed to distribute iodine pills to the country’s entire population as a nuclear safety precaution.

Health Minister Maggie De Block said current rules requiring pills to be given within 20km (12 miles) of a reactor should be increased to 100km.

Belgium’s neighbours have criticised the state of its nuclear reactors.

However, the minister said the change was as a result of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

An earthquake led to a tsunami and all three reactor cores largely melted down.

“Every country has updated its plans for a nuclear emergency,” Ms De Block told Belgian TV.

And after Fukushima, the Japanese government handed out these same pills, intended to block radioactive isotopes of iodine from lodging in the thyroid gland, a potential cause of thyroid cancer.

As for the state of the Belgian reactors, well, it’s been better:

[German] Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks called for the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors to be taken offline because of a report by Germany’s independent Reactor Safety Commission.

They were temporarily shut in 2012 when defects were found in the walls of the reactors’ pressure vessels.

It may be 2017 before the pills get into the hands, and thence into the mouths, of the Belgian citizenry.


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