The federal government will not give anti-radiation pills to millions of people who live 10 to 20 miles from a nuclear plant because there are more effective ways to protect people in case of an accident or terrorist attack, the White House said Monday.
The pills "offer negligible additional protection" against radiation exposure for those who live outside a 10-mile radius of a reactor, said John Marburger, President Bush's top science adviser.
Some members of Congress and thyroid cancer activists expressed outrage. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., called it "reckless endangerment of the American people."
The government already stockpiles the pills, which protect against thyroid cancer after radiation exposure, for the 4.7 million people who live within 10 miles of a plant.
More than five years ago, Congress ordered wider distribution of the pills, to cover 21.9 million people in 33 states, amid concerns that terrorists could attack a nuclear plant.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has long opposed wider distribution of potassium iodide pills, arguing that evacuation and protection from contaminated food are more effective ways to prevent cancer. The NRC also has expressed concern that pill distribution could undermine public confidence in the safety of the nation's nuclear plants.
(I tried to add a cool "Disaster Movie" Photoshop of mine here but it wouldn't do it. Drats)