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Last Updated: Friday, 3 December, 2004, 08:11 GMT
Tablets for Dungeness neighbours
Dungeness Power Station
The scheme is already in place at other power stations in the UK
Protective pills are to be given out to people living near Dungeness Power Station in case of a nuclear accident.

The potassium iodate tablets, which lessen the risk of thyroid cancer, will be distributed to residents living within 2.4km of the Kent plant.

The tablets were previously kept at emergency evacuation centres, but it was decided to distribute them so they could be used more quickly.

The health trust distributing them said the nuclear industry was safe.

The nuclear industry is as safe as it has ever been
Sam Denton, Shepway Primary Care Trust

"What we want to do is to allay as many concerns as we possibly can, " said Sam Denton, from Shepway Primary Care Trust.

"One of the problems we are facing is the perception that there is an increased risk of a nuclear emergency.

"That is not the case at all - the nuclear industry is as safe as it has ever been.

"We are just improving the way we develop our arrangements."

'Activate the system'

Mr Denton said the scheme was already in operation near other power stations in the UK.

The zone for the pills to be handed out was drawn up by independent experts who examined potential scenarios.

The tablets fill up the thyroid gland with safe, stable iodine which, if there was an emergency, would stop radioactive iodine getting to the gland and maybe causing cancer.

British Energy said a new early warning system is also being put in place next year to alert people if an emergency happened.

John McNamara, from British Energy said: "It can make up to 1,500 telephone calls in a minute.

"It is connected to our emergency plan and in the unlikely event of an emergency at the power station that would activate the system."

The tablets are due to be given out to residents by the end of February.

Power station goes with a bang
06 Feb 03 |  England

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