DHEC offering free potassium iodide pills for residents near nuclear facilities

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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, April 29, 2013

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- Approximately 1.2 million -- that's the number of potassium iodide doses the South Carolina Health and Environmental Control is offering people in 13 South Carolina counties.

Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell counties are offering the medicine for free, but just for people who are neighbors with nuclear facilities.

The sound of construction fills the air at Plant Vogtle. They're building two nuclear reactors in Georgia with the potential to affect folks all across our area.

"Starting today, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control made potassium iodide available to residents who live within a 10-mile emergency planning zone," said DHEC Spokesman Jim Beasley Monday night.

Beasley says there's one reason folks in Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell are getting this: "Nuclear power plants."

Even though each county received 3,200 doses, very few have been given out.

"Six from Barnwell. No request from Allendale at this time. Only one in the Aiken County office," Beasley said.

"We would immediately start taking potassium iodide," said Claude O'Donovan.

O'Donovan is a prepper or survivalist. You may remember him from a story News 12 did last year.

"I probably have 250 pounds of beans," he told News 12 last year, as he was showing his stockpile.

Even though he's prepared for just about anything, he told News 12 why he thinks just a few people have accepted the pills.

"Frankly, I didn't know they had done this until you told me. I think it's a matter of informing the public," O'Donovan said.

Again, the pills are free and DHEC says they will make sure everyone who needs them gets them.

"We will continue to offer them to the residents who are located within that 10-mile emergency planning zone until we feel confident that we have reached everyone who needs to receive those," Beasley said.

DHEC says this is not a magic pill that protects against all types of radiation. What the pill does is protects the thyroid gland against one form of radiation.

For more information, contact the following offices:
Aiken County Health Department
222 Beaufort Street NE
Aiken, S.C. 29801
(803) 642-1687

Allendale County Health Department
571 Memorial Avenue, North
Allendale, S.C. 29810
(803) 584-3818

Barnwell County Health Department
11015 Ellenton Street
Barnwell, S.C. 29812
(803) 541-1061

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