Amid Rising Fears Of Nuclear Terrorism, Belgium Hands Out Iodine Pills To Entire Population
29 April, 2016
One month after we learned that the Brussels suicide bombers had planted hidden cameras at the home of the top Belgian nuclear official, we now learn that in a disturbing continuation of this story, the entire population of Belgium will be receiving iodine tablets, which helps to limit the effects of radiation on the body, as fears increase around the security of its nuclear power plants.
Iodine pills, which can help block radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland, had previously only been given to people living within 20km (14 miles) of the Tihange and Doel nuclear plants, but Health Minister Maggie De Block said that coverage was extended to 100km. The extended coverage area now encompasses essentially the entire country of 11 million people. "We will provide iodine pills in the whole country."
She added: "It is not linked with the safety of our nuclear plants. The recommendation came after Fukushima … because obviously after Fukushima, we have more information regarding nuclear risks."
The pills will be sent to pharmacies, and the public would be ordered to collect their ration in the event of a meltdown, with children, pregnant women, and those breast-feeding being given top priority.
In response to the announcement, Belgian politician Jean-Marc Nollet said "the government is finally accepting the recommendation of the Health Ministry. Given the population density and the risk of a nuclear disaster, this was absolutely necessary."
The plan to increase the coverage area comes just after Germany had asked Belgium to take two of their reactors offline until "open safety questions are cleared up." Belgium's nuclear regulator AFCN said that it was surprised by Germany's request, and added that the nuclear reactors meet the most strictest of standards. According to RT, the two 33 year old reactors were taken offline in 2012 after defects were found in the walls of the reactors' pressure vessels. AFCN cleared their re-start in November, saying the cracks were hydrogen flakes trapped in the walls of the reactor tank and had no impact on safety.
As we previously reported, following the investigation into the Brussels bombings, it was discovered that the bombers were planning attacks on Belgian nuclear power stations. The brothers involved in the suicide bombing had planted a hidden camera in front of the home of Belgium's nuclear research program director.
Belgium's Tihange nuclear plant as seen from a nearby cemetery
As a reminder, just recently a nuclear power plant in Germany was infected with not one but several computer viruses, and while authorities tried to quickly downplay any concerns, we can't help but wonder if Europe's next "terrorist event" take place at a nuclear power plant.