WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior Democratic Member of both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee, today released a letter urging President Bush and his administration to comply with the 2002 Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act and ensure that KI (potassium iodide) is available to be distributed to all persons living within a 20 mile radius of a nuclear power plant. KI is a safe and proven method of protecting the public from the risk of radiation-induced thyroid cancers in the event of a terrorist attack or nuclear accident at a nuclear power plant, and its use has been recommended by the National Academy of Sciences.
“It has come to my attention that some within your Administration may be trying to eviscerate an important public safety and anti-terrorism measure enacted into law by the Congress in 2002,” wrote Rep. Markey in his letter to the President. Markey also noted that, “[T]he Nuclear Regulatory Commission never supported the KI provision, and it has recently come to my attention that the NRC may be trying to circumvent the clear intention of the Congress that KI be made available to communities within a 20 mile radius of a nuclear reactor who request it.”
Rep. Markey is the offered a successful amendment to the “Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002” that expanded the radius of KI distribution out to 20 miles. He has been actively working on oversight of this law, pushing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to set useful guidelines for the stockpiling and distribution of KI.
Rep. Markey expressed concern that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is attempting to use a provision of the Section, Subsection (f), to withhold KI from the public. However, this subsection was intended to allow the President to substitute a new and more effective prophylaxis for KI were one to be discovered, not to allow the withholding of KI if it is the most effective agent available – as is the case today.
Markey’s letter concluded, “I therefore urge you to comply with the intent of Congress and move forward expeditiously to make KI available to those living near nuclear power plants. A failure to do so, or an attempt to circumvent this law by invoking Subjection (f) on the basis of any existing or proposed sheltering or evacuation plans, will leave millions of our fellow citizens vulnerable to thyroid cancers in the event of a successful terrorist attack or catastrophic accident at any one of the nation’s 104 operating nuclear reactors. The American people are counting on you to ensure that these citizens who live near these reactor sites are protected.”
A copy of the letter to President Bush, along with more information on Rep. Markey’s work on this issue can be found on his website, http://markey.house.gov
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CONTACT: Tara McGuiness