The Regional Municipality of Durham


News Release

Potassium Iodide distribution to begin 10 kilometres around nuclear generating stations

WHITBY, ON September 02, 2015 - Durham Region Health Department, in conjunction with Ontario Power Generation (OPG), is beginning a campaign to distribute Potassium Iodide (KI) pills to all homes and businesses within 10 kilometers of the Darlington and Pickering nuclear generating stations.

Changes outlined by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) now require that all homes and businesses within the primary zone (10 kilometers) of a nuclear generating station be provided with KI pills by 2016, in the very unlikely event of a nuclear emergency involving the release of radioactive iodine.

A serious nuclear accident is extremely unlikely and would likely take many hours and days to unfold. The Pickering nuclear generating station has operated for 40 years without a serious accident; the Darlington nuclear generating station has operated for 25 years, also without a serious accident.

KI is a stable iodine salt, effective in reducing the risk of thyroid cancer in the event of a radioactive iodine release. The pills had previously been available free of charge to the public at select pharmacies in Durham Region, and to all health care facilities, long-term care homes, child care centres and emergency service providers within the primary zone. The CNSC has changed the requirements due to increased safety standards.

The pills should only be taken when instructed to do so by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health in the event of a nuclear accident.

“Durham Region Health Department extends its thanks to local pharmacies that have worked with us for over 10 years to help make KI pills available to area residents and businesses located within the primary zones,” explained Dr. Robert Kyle, Durham Region Medical Officer of Health. “In partnership with OPG, the Health Department will now work to ensure that the new CNSC requirements for the distribution of KI pills in Durham Region primary zones are completed.”

Durham Region homes and businesses in the primary zones will receive a letter about the campaign in the next few weeks from the Region’s Medical Officer of Health, along with a KI fact sheet. Ads will also appear in local newspapers and on billboards in the primary zones.

Beginning in October, all homes and businesses within 10 kilometres of nuclear generating stations will receive a package of KI pills in the mail. Occupants will be asked to store the pills with other emergency supplies that are kept in their residences or businesses.

For more information about the campaign, visit preparetobesafe.ca. For additional information about the KI distribution program in Durham Region, please call the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613.

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Media inquiries:

Regional Municipality of Durham:
Glendene Collins - Health Department, 905-668-7711 ext. 2999 

If this information is required in an accessible format, please contact the Accessibility Co-ordinator at 1-800-372-1102 extension 2009.

For more information, please contact Health Department.