Date: 02/4/02


        UNPLUG Salem Urges McGreevy to Distribute KI Directly to Residents Near Salem Nukes

        The UNPLUG Salem Campaign, a network of 106 organizations that watchdogs the Salem Nuclear Plants, recently sent Governor Jim McGreevy a letter urging him to veto New Jersey's plan to stockpile Potassium Iodide (KI) and instead directly provide the anti-radiation medicine to all residents living within 10 miles of the three nuclear plants on Artificial Island.   KI, if taken immediately after a radiation release, protects people from thyroid cancer. KI does nothing to protect people from any other effects of radiation.
     New Jersey policy makers seem to support warehousing KI because of their concerns about how to supply summer residents with the medicine. However, as the UNPLUG Salem Campaign stated in their letter to McGreevy, "The 10-mile area around the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear plants is not a prime tourist area. The population remains fairly stable year-round. Thus stockpiling KI makes no sense. All residents within a 10-mile radius of Artificial Island should have KI in their homes. It is bad enough that, according to researcher Joseph Mangano, Salem County residents have cancer and infant mortality rates that are high above state and national averages due in part to the synergistic effects of continued doses of low-level radiation produced by Salem and Hope Creek."
   The letter continues, " Another serious concern about stockpiling KI is the distribution problem. The whole point of KI is to have it readily available to use if evacuation plans fail, or if a radioactive plume is moving too fast for evacuation to work. The longer one puts off taking KI, the less effective it is. If KI were stockpiled in some warehouse, how would rescue workers get the medicine to the affected people in time?  What if, God forbid, a major nuclear accident occurred at 3:00 AM in the morning? How long would citizens have to wait for emergency workers to unlock the warehouse storing the KI?"
   The UNPLUG Salem Campaign is concerned that that the State's Evacuation Plan for Artificial Island, as written, just won't work.  There are too many two-lane roads in Salem County. There would be widespread panic if there was a nuclear accident. For example, parents' first thought would be to rush to school to find their children. Would all the bus drivers, including those from New Jersey Transit, really report to work, or would they protect their families?
   So if the people can't get out in the case of nuclear power tragedy, how can New Jersey health and emergency management officials deliver KI from the warehouse to the local population?
   This concern of a radiation release has been heightened since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been forced to admit that all four of our NJ nuclear plants may not be able to withstand a terrorist attack. A 911-type attack would be catastrophic for everyone living within 50 miles of Salem.
    The NRC is currently reviewing a "2.206 petition" from the UNPLUG Salem Campaign that points out serious security flaws and asks for major security upgrades at Artificial Island. So the UNPLUG Salem Campaign strongly urges Governor McGreevy to overturn the decision to stockpile KI and to require that all local residents within a 10 mile radius of all four of New Jersey's nuclear plants be provided with KI to be kept in their homes.
    This is such a small step to take to give the public some protection in the case of a radiation release.  Of course, PSE&G could eliminate the need for KI by agreeing to close down Salem 1 and 2 and Hope Creek, and invest in alternative forms of energy instead.
   The UNPLUG Salem Campaign is a network of 106 organizations whose aims are to close the two aging and dangerous Salem Nuclear Plants, to stop the Salem Nuke Fish Slaughter, to act as a public safety and health watchdog, and to promote alternatives to nuclear and coal powered energy.

CONTACT:  Norm Cohen 609-601-8583