Flamanville: Nuclear power safety review – but no plan for iodine pills

THERE are no plans to provide Islanders with radiation-blocking iodine pills following a decision in France to issue the drugs to more residents after safety zones around nuclear power plants were enlarged.

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French authorities have doubled the safety radius originally set in 2016 to 20km, around 12 miles, and will soon start distributing the pills to an additional 2.2 million people living near the country’s 19 power plants, including Flamanville in Normandy, 22 miles to the north-east of Jersey.

The pills work by introducing iodine into the body, reducing its appetite for other more harmful forms of the element, such as iodine-131, which is created by nuclear power stations’ reactor cores.

The Government of Jersey said it had no similar plans to issue iodine tablets locally because the plant was considered far enough away not to require such action.

A spokeswoman for the government said: ‘Jersey’s closest point to Flamanville is further than 20km (approximately 35km) and iodine is not provided by the government.’

She added that more information about Jersey’s emergency preparedness was available online at gov.je/stayingsafe/emergencyplanning.

Asked if Jersey’s position would change if France increased the safety radius further, she added: ‘Jersey’s emergency planning policies are, however, regularly reviewed as evidence changes.’

In the States this week Chief Minister John Le Fondré was asked about the potential risks to the Island presented by Flamanville. While the minister said the facility was on the government’s risk register, he added that there were other risks that ranked higher. Last week energy giant EDF announced that it had identified manufacturing problems on six active nuclear reactors in France, but that they were still deemed fit for use. The reactors in question are in the power stations at Blayais, Bugey, Fessenheim, Dampierre-en-Burly and Paluel.

And earlier this month a nuclear reactor at the Flamanville plant had to be shut down after traces of corrosion were spotted on back-up systems.

The corrosion was found on support brackets of the two auxiliary systems. French media reported that this would not guarantee perfect performance in the event of an earthquake. The fasteners on the reactor, which had already been shut down for almost ten months for a ten-year review, are due to be replaced.

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