Belgium Issues Iodine Pills to All Citizens in Nuclear Emergency Plan
Belgium is to issue iodine tablets to its entire population as part of a revised nuclear emergency plan, a measure unveiled just months after it emerged that ISIS-linked bombers spied on a top scientist and hoped to build a "dirty bomb." A dose of iodine, which helps to limit the effects of radiation on the body, will be made available to all 11 million people in the small country, Health Minister Maggie De Block told reporters Thursday.
There have also been concerns at the security of Belgium's creaking nuclear energy plants, including two 40-year-old reactors.
Many foreign governments — and some states, including California and New York — issue iodine tablets, which work by filling the thyroid gland and preventing the absorption of radioactive iodide.
Belgium had originally planned to issue the tablets to people living near its Tihange and Doel nuclear plants but will now widen the distribution area so that the whole country is included. Belgium covers an area of 12,000 square miles — roughly the size of Maryland.