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New York's Westchester County Dispenses "Radiation Pills" As a Precaution Against a Nuclear Disaster at Indian Point Power Plant

June 11, 2002

Officials in New York State’s Westchester County began handing out potassium iodide pills to residents within 10 miles of the Indian Point nuclear power plant this weekend. Officials say the pills will help protect against thyroid cancer in the event of a radioactive disaster. They do not protect against other effects of radiation or other cancers.

Potassium iodide was used after the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine that killed thirty people and exposed hundreds to acute radiation poisoning. Ten years later, the World Health Organization linked nearly 700 cases of thyroid cancer among children and adolescents to the Chernobyl accident.

Since September 11th, there has been growing concern that Indian Point Energy Center could be a prime target for a terrorist attack. Indian Point sits just 40 miles north of Midtown Manhattan, and is within a 50- mile radius of 8 percent of the population of the whole country.

Entergy, the company that owns Indian Point, launched a high profile public relations campaign marketing the plant as "safe, secure, and vital."

But even in the absence of an attack, the plant’s reactors have been plagued by minor leaks and safety lapses for years. Last October, four of seven control room teams failed re-certification exams (though three later passed a retest). In February 2000, faulty tubes at Indian Point plant sent 20,000 gallons of radioactive water into the containment building and released radioactive steam into the air.

Today we are going to have a debate on nuclear power and safety.


  • Harvey Wasserman, anti-nuclear activist, senior adviser to Greenpeace USA, and author of ??The Last Energy War: The Battle Over Utility Deregulation, published by Seven Stories Press.
  • Elizabeth Shanklin, coordinator, Close Indian Point NYC Campaign.
  • Susan Tolchin, chief advisor to Westchester county executive Andy Spano. Tolchin supervises the "comprehensive emergency response plan" for Westchester county and passed out potassium iodide pills in Westchester on Saturday.


  • Mike Slobodien, director of Emergency programs for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the company that owns and operates Indian Point Energy Center. He is also a certified physicist.

Related links:


  • And When I Die–Laura Nyro, Time and Love–The Essential Masters (Columbia/Legacy).

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