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Last Updated: Monday, 17 November, 2003, 08:41 GMT
Radiation pills under review
Devonport Dockyard
Devonport is home to seven Trafalgar class nuclear submarines
Tablets which could help protect against cancer after a nuclear accident may no longer be given to Devonport residents to store in their homes.

People living in the area - which is home to a nuclear submarine base - had been handed the potassium iodate tablets to keep in their homes.

But Debra Lapthorne, director of public health in Plymouth, says the tablets can be easily lost.

Under new plans, the pills would only be given out in the event of a nuclear accident.

Devonport is home to the Navy's seven Trafalgar-class nuclear submarines and has four decommissioned nuclear submarines awaiting dismantling.

Pets fear

The tablets can reduce damage from radiation to the thyroid gland if they are taken as soon as possible after exposure.

Ms Lapthorne said the tablets would no longer be provided in advance to households.

They would still be given to schools in the area and to the general public in the event of an incident.

The reasons for the change are because people mislay the tablets, children or pets could swallow them and also because people move in and out of the area.

Irradiated water

The proposals are due to be discussed by the city council on Monday.

The move comes as the European Commission considers whether to allow a decision to increase the amount of radioactive waste dumped into the River Tamar from Devonport.

The Environment Agency issued the licence which allowed DML a 500% increase in discharges of radioactive tritium, from water irradiated after being used to cool the reactor on board nuclear submarines.

The EC says the licence does not comply with regulations on the disposal of nuclear waste.

However, the government has said the regulations do not apply to the dockyard because it is a military site.

It has also said that even the higher levels tritium discharges at Devonport remained well within national and international guidelines and was well below that produced by naturally occurring sources in the area.

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