State officials are closely monitoring the radiation situation from the Japanese nuclear reactors in Fukushima Dai-ichi. At this time there is no anticipated health threat to the U.S. or Kansas. According to scientists with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, radiation won’t reach the U.S. in any quantity sufficient to produce health concerns.
“The best tool we can give to the public right now is accurate information,” said Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, M.D. “The consensus of international and national experts is that the current events in Japan do not pose a health risk to Kansans. We have been monitoring the situation from the beginning and will continue to do so.”
“KDHE is committed to keeping Kansans up-to-date on this situation and hope that these FAQs will be informative,” said Dr. Robert Moser, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “At this time, there are no immediate concerns, but we will continue to monitor and alert the public as needed.”
Some members of the public have expressed concerns regarding the consumption of potassium iodide (KI), which blocks the absorption of radioactive iodine by the thyroid. At this time, there is no need for anyone in Kansas to purchase or consume potassium iodide in response to the events in Japan, and in fact, it can be dangerous for some individuals to do so.
Generally, KI is only issued to first responders and emergency workers who must work in close proximity to a radiological release or are likely to receive a higher than normal exposure to radioactive iodine. Consumption of KI can lead to harmful side effects if not taken properly. It is the policy of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to advise the public against taking KI.
Maj. Gen. (KS) Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, said that the events in Japan are a good reminder for Kansans to take stock of how well they are prepared to face an emergency situation.
“Take this opportunity to prepare yourself and your family for the types of disasters we often experience in Kansas – fires, floods, tornadoes, and other severe weather-related incidents,” said Tafanelli. “These preparations include assembling a home emergency kit with enough food, water and other necessities to survive a minimum of three days until assistance can arrive. You should also have a home emergency plan that everyone understands and practice it at least once a year.”
The state of Kansas prepares and conducts exercises for disaster response routinely and recently updated its Kansas Response Plan. It details how state agencies respond to emergencies in the state to assist local governments and coordinate with federal agencies, should federal assistance be needed. The document is available for the public at http://kansastag.ks.gov/AdvHTML_doc_upload/2011%20Final%20Plan.pdf
There is one nuclear plant in Kansas, Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station near Burlington in Coffey County. A plant in Nebraska, Cooper Nuclear, is within 50 miles of the Kansas-Nebraska border. The state of Kansas works closely with Wolf Creek and Cooper to ensure that all possible precautions are taken to protect the health and safety of the public.
Wolf Creek was designed to withstand the effects of earthquakes, tornadoes and other disasters. The plant was also designed with multiple safety systems to ensure it can be shut down safely. The state conducts several exercises with Wolf Creek and Coffey County each year to test emergency plans regarding the plant under different disaster scenarios.
Any updates to the FAQs will be posted on the www.KsReady.gov Web site.