Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant: EU provides anti-radiation tablets to Ukraine

Image credit: BBC

As worries about a disaster at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant increase, the EU is sending more than five million anti-radiation tablets to Ukraine.

Both sides accuse the other of carrying out recent strikes on the Zaporizhzhia plant, which is occupied by Russia.

The pills, which can prevent the body from absorbing radioactive iodine, are already being distributed by officials in some places.

Only if a radioactive leak is confirmed are residents instructed to take it.

The potassium iodide tablets are now only being provided to those who live within 50 kilometres (30 miles) of the power plant, but the European Union is giving Ukraine more than five million doses, allowing for far wider distribution.

Soon after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, it took control of Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine. The plant’s remaining Ukrainian employees claim that Russian troops have used it as a military base and that employees are being detained at gunpoint.

Although the facility has sustained significant damage as a result of recent fighting nearby, there hasn’t yet been any evidence of a rise in radiation levels in the region.

Officials worry that any damage could result in a radioactive leak, which could spread across a wide area.

The UN’s nuclear agency has been requesting access to the plant for several months, and a team has now arrived in Ukraine in the hopes that they will soon be granted permission to finally investigate the site.

On Monday, inhabitants of a section of Zaporizhzhia city were already receiving potassium iodide pills, and 25,000 tablets have been transported to Enerhodar, the community nearest to the nuclear facility.

To stop the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine, or iodine-131, the principal cancer-causing isotope, potassium iodide is given.

Even years after exposure, high radioactive iodine levels can raise a child’s, adolescent’s, or infant’s risk of developing thyroid cancer.

The thyroid gland will absorb potassium iodide instead of the more hazardous iodine-131, lowering the dangers to one’s health if given at the proper time and dose.

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