Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy Project

 For Immediate Release:
 Oct. 16, 2000

 Public Citizen Delivers Radiation Protection to Congress
 Americans Won't Be Protected From Radiation Poisoning in a Nuclear Accident

 WASHINGTON, D.C. -- To emphasize the lack of protection for Americans in the
 event of a nuclear accident, Public Citizen today delivered to every member
 of Congress a chemical designed to protect against radiation poisoning.

 In letters that were hand-delivered to every senator and representative,
 Public Citizen included packets of potassium iodide (KI), which is extremely
 effective at blocking the absorption of radioactive iodine by the thyroid.
 One of the elements released during a meltdown is radioactive iodine.

 "In case of an accident at one of the 103 aging nuclear reactors in the
 United States, Congress now has the opportunity to protect itself from the
 radioactive iodine released into the environment," said Wenonah Hauter,
 director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program.
 "Unfortunately, due to decades of delay by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
 (NRC), the American public is not afforded this same opportunity."

 The effectiveness of KI was recognized in 1977 by the National Council on
 Radiation Protection. The Food and Drug Administration in 1978 authorized
 its use for the general public. However, at the time of the Three Mile
 Island (TMI) accident, potassium iodide was not available in quantities
 sufficient for the population within a 20-mile radius of TMI. More than 20
 years after the Three Mile Island meltdown, the NRC has yet to stockpile KI
 for use in the next nuclear accident.

 "While the United States has more nuclear reactors than any other country,
 the protection afforded American citizens is second-rate," said James
 Riccio, senior analyst with Public Citizen. "The obfuscation and delay that
 have characterized the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's deliberations on this
 matter is intolerable. The NRC is treating Americans like second-class
 citizens."

 Potassium iodide was used successfully in Poland in the wake of the
 Chernobyl accident. As a result, that country is not experiencing the
 epidemic of thyroid cancers that plague children in countries such as
 Ukraine that failed to distribute the drug. Other nations already stockpile
 potassium iodide; they include Sweden, Finland, The United Kingdom, Germany,
 France, Canada, the Czech Republic and Russia.