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2002 News from Mecklenburg County

November 20, 2002

HEALTH DEPARTMENT EXTENDS FREE KI TO WORKERS  
NEAR NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS

Charlotte, NC - The Mecklenburg County Health Department, and Health Departments in Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, and Lincoln counties, will now make free potassium iodide (KI) available to those who work near the McGuire and Catawba nuclear power plants. 

This is the second phase of free KI distribution to those in the 10-mile emergency planning zones (EPZ) surrounding this area's two nuclear power plants.  County Health Departments initially made KI available to those living in the EPZs.  This is the first time the radiation blocking pills will be made available to those who work in the area.  

The pills will be distributed to employers for disbursement to employees in institutions such as jails, prisons, nursing homes, hospitals and residential care facilities; and again to those living within the 10-mile EPZ of either nuclear power plant.  Planning is still underway to extend KI to schools and childcare centers.

From November 21 - December 13, Mecklenburg County employers within either 10-mile EPZ may pick-up potassium iodide at the Mecklenburg County Health Department's "Fighting Back" offices, located behind the Health Department's northwest campus at 2845 Beatties Ford Road.  This is the only site for employers to pick up KI.

Worksites are eligible for one tablet per person based on the number of employees on site during the largest shift.  Employer representatives must present their request in writing on company letterhead.  Employers are responsible for developing their own on-site distribution plans. 

Due to the unique challenges of evacuating institutionalized populations such as those in hospitals, jails, or nursing homes, two tablets per resident are being made available to those facilities.  Employers or groups choosing a pre-event distribution of KI to its employees, staff, etc., are responsible for keeping a record of the individuals receiving the tablets and the number of tablets they were given.

Those living within the 10-mile EPZs who did not take advantage of last month's distribution are again encouraged to pick up their household's allotment of potassium iodide.   One family member may pick up two tablets per person for each member of the household at the following locations during normal business hours, November 21 - December 13: 

· Mecklenburg County Health Department's "Fighting Back" offices: 2845 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte, NC
· Cornelius Police Dept., 21440 Catawba Ave., Cornelius, NC  704-892-1363
· Davidson Town Hall, 216 South Main St., Davidson, NC  704-892-7591
· North County Regional Library, 16500 Holly Crest Lane, Huntersville, NC  704-895-4020
· Pineville Town Hall, 118 College St., Pineville, NC  704-889-2291

Potassium iodide is not a replacement for evacuation.  KI only protects the thyroid gland from one type of radiation.  In the event of a nuclear emergency, there would likely be many types of radiation that could affect all organs of the body.  If instructed to do so, the best course of action remains evacuation. 

For a complete list of distribution locations in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties, log on to the Mecklenburg County Health Department's Web site at www.meckhealth.org. Under the "Regional KI Information" section you will also find maps of the EPZs of both nuclear power plants, copies of the information sheet handed out with each packet of KI, answers to frequently asked questions, and links to other information about KI, radiation, and nuclear emergencies. 



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