PORT CLINTON -- KI.
Otherwise known as potassium iodide.
It's a small white pill that resembles an aspirin tablet that, in
the event of a radiation release at Davis-Besse Nuclear Power
Station, could help prevent illness.
And now it will be the source of a meeting held by the Ohio
Department of Health at 1 p.m. Feb. 27 in the basement of the Ottawa
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission last year decided to provide
the pill to states for the purpose of mass distribution in areas
around nuclear power plants.
The iodine in the pill invades the thyroid and fills it before
any radioactive iodine -- which could be released from the plant --
makes it into the thyroid.
The NRC, however, recommends it only as a supplement to the far
more crucial evacuation plan, noting the pill only works on one type
of radiation that could be released, and that it is not a cure-all
for radiation exposure.
Members of the ODH are now trying to decide whether or not to
participate in the federal program.
Local emergency authorities, however, fear ODH officials have
already made up their minds and will end up diverting the
responsibility of distribution to the Ottawa County Emergency
Management Agency and Department of Health.
County EMA Director Jim Greer told county commissioners Tuesday
he recently participated in a conference call with local and state
health officials and that was the tone of the call.
"Most everyone has the belief that ODH will recommend making KI
available to the general public," Greer told them. "They will have
the locals make it happen. We all have concerns about that."
Greer's concerns are not so much centered on the safety of the
pill, which is a relatively small dosage of potassium iodide, but
rather in the mass distribution of the pill in a tourist-populated
For instance, should the county EMA request 20,000 tablets, which
would be the required amount for full time residents within the 10
mile emergency planning zone around Davis-Besse?
Or should it ask for 200,000, which is the amount of people who
could travel through the Davis-Besse EPZ throughout the summer?
County commissioners were put off by the idea that the state
health department wasn't going to offer much guidance with the
program as well.
"They are the leaders, they are to be making the decision, not
the locals," said commissioner Carl Koebel.
Currently, the pills are available to emergency workers, such as
fire, police and EMS, those in the detention facilities, nursing
homes and hospitals.
The pill is an over-the-counter drug and can be purchased at any
drug store without a prescription, but it is rarely kept in stock
because few people demand it.
Koebel also brought up the issue of the pill's shelf life. It
lasts about five years, and the federal program -- so far -- only
covers the initial purchase of the pills.
Therefore, in five years, the county could be responsible for
replenishing the supply, at a cost of thousands of dollars.