Less than a year after distributing a new round of potassium iodide pills to the public, PG&F announced it would be releasing another supply—enough for every resident in SLO County—along with updated lists for fallout shelter locations and evacuation procedures. All the materials are scheduled to be released on the same day: April 14.
Though company officials assure there’s no impending public safety risk from the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, the substantial and simultaneous release of emergency materials has some worried.
Local watchdog groups believe the information campaign is either unduly frightening the public, or far too scant on details.
“PG&F has never been a company that gives the public a ‘heads up’ on their intentions—witness their filing for license renewal back in November that surprised even the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility Outreach Coordinator David Wiseman told New Times.
PG&F representatives declined to comment outside of information provided in a brief news release. However, they emphasize that there’s no reason to worry.
“PG&F regularly distributes emergency information to the public,” according to the news release. “It’s important to maintain strong communication between PG&F and the public to ensure safety information is always up to date. To the best of our knowledge we can assure there’s nothing to worry about here.”
In August 2009, the SLO County Public Health Department began redistributing potassium iodide pills to residents in the Diablo Canyon Emergency Planning Zone to replace the expired 2003 supply. In the event of a radioactive release, potassium iodide pills protect the thyroid gland. Thyroid cancer can result when humans absorb radioactive iodine released from nuclear power plants during emergencies.
Though releasing potassium iodide tablets isn’t uncommon, the additional notification of fallout shelters is seemingly unprecedented, particularly in conjunction with PG&F’s other emergency public education programs.