Poland has begun a program of distributing iodine tablets to emergency workers and first responders, starting with regional fire departments – who can in turn hand them out to the general population – in the event of a possible radioactive disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
A Polish deputy minister first announced the plan on Thursday, warning of the possibility of dangerous radioactive exposure amid continued fighting in neighboring Ukraine, where technicians at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant continue to struggle to maintain safeguards.
“After the media reports about battles near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, we decided… ahead of time to take protective action to distribute iodine,” the Polish official, Blazej Pobozy, said in a national radio broadcast.
“I would like to reassure all citizens that these are routine, preemptive actions that are to protect us in the event of a situation which… I hope will not happen.” Iodine tablets can help protect against conditions associated with radioactive exposure such as thyroid cancer.
The plant has suffered frequently cut power cables, having been removed from the nation’s power grid multiple times and reverting to back-up measures, amid shelling in the area as some 500 Russian troops have occupied the complex since March.
Both sides have continued to blame the other for the deteriorating operating conditions, which earlier in the month caused plant operators to take a sixth reactor off the grid out of an abundance of caution while a power line was being restored after fire.
Earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, “Due to Russian provocation, the Zaporizhzhya plant is one step away from a radiation disaster.”
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