Amherstburg To Begin KI Pill Distribution

Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and Amherstburg Fire Chief Bruce Montone listen during a press conference at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit in Windsor, April 26, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

The Town of Amherstburg is preparing residents for the unlikely chance of a nuclear incident.

The town is teaming up with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to distribute kits containing potassium iodide, or KI pills, to residents living closest to the Fermi II nuclear power plant, across the river in Michigan.

According to Dr. Wajid Ahmed, acting medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex, the KI pills are the first line of defence against thyroid problems, should people be exposed to radioactive material following a nuclear event.

“This radioactive nuclear iodine is absorbed into our thyroid gland, which depending on the exposure and the time of the exposure, may cause thyroid cancer,” says Ahmed.

The KI kits will be distributed to residents in the primary zone first, which is a radius around the Fermi II nuclear plant. This includes a section of southwestern Amherstburg and Boblo Island that is roughly 16 km from the plant itself.

This map shows the section of Amherstburg that is part of the primary response zone for the Fermi II nuclear power plant. Courtesy of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

The distribution of these kits is part of the town’s official emergency response plan. This works in conjunction with Amherstburg’s new alert system, Amherstburg Alerts.

Residents living in this zone will receive letters from the town of Amherstburg inviting them to pick up a free KI kit. These residents will get first priority in receiving the kits.

These pills are not to be taken without specific instructions from the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario during the course of a nuclear emergency, and should be included with residents’ 72-hour emergency response kits, which Amherstburg Fire Chief Bruce Montone says are vital regardless of the emergency.

“You need to have enough water, enough food to be self-sufficient for 72 hours,” says Montone. “Don’t forget about your medications. You should have at least a 72-hour supply of whatever medications you’re required to take.”

The emergency kit should also include a three day supply of pet food for pets in the household, according to Montone.

All of Windsor-Essex and a part of western Chatham-Kent are included in the secondary zone for the Fermi II plant, as well as the secondary zone for the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in northern Ohio. For those living in this area who are interested in receiving a KI kit, they will be available at a later date.

It’s important to know, however, that there is no added risk at the Fermi II plant. The plant is subject to the regulations of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which has no jurisdiction for Canadian residents living in a plant’s primary response zone. The KI kits are mandated for Canadian residents by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC).

The KI pills will be available for distribution to those in the primary zone beginning May 7, with pickup scheduled for the Libro Centre.

A potassium iodide, or KI, kit is displayed at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit on April 26, 2018. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.