NRA updates nuclear crisis responses, iodine provision

JIJI

New rules on the distribution of stable iodine tablets in areas near troubled nuclear plants were among the revised guidelines on crises responses adopted Wednesday by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The guidelines also include better planning for radiation monitoring in emergencies.

“There has been a lot of interest in (rules regarding radiation) monitoring and distribution of iodine tablets among residents,” Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the NRA, told the organization.

“Now that the basic framework has been decided, I would like to see follow-up (by related parties) in order for the measures to function properly,” he added.

Given the confusion among residents evacuating their homes in the early stages of the triple-meltdown calamity at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011, the independent watchdog has gradually revised the guidelines since its establishment last September.

Changes to the guidelines include an expansion of areas where evacuation plans must be in place to prepare for nuclear disasters.

With most of the updates now completed, regional governments will begin creating their own disaster response manuals based on the guidelines.

In the latest revision, the NRA said that in areas within a 5-km radius of nuclear plants, local authorities should distribute iodine tablets to residents after explanations by doctors and checks for possible side effects.

Those tablets are used to mitigate the initial impact of radiation exposure in a fallout crisis.