• Kyodo

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Local authorities in Kagoshima Prefecture on Sunday started handing out iodine tablets to residents living within 5 km of the Sendai nuclear power plant, which may be restarted in the fall.

It is the first time iodine tablets have been distributed under guidelines instituted by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which was set up in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Iodine tablets help people protect their thyroid glands from radiation.

The move by the Kagoshima prefectural and Satsumasendai municipal governments came after Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant cleared a key safety hurdle for restarting operations earlier this month.

About 2,700 of the roughly 4,700 residents over 3 who live within the 5-km radius were given a supply of tablets after hearing an official briefing, submitting medical interview sheets and receiving the green light from doctors, according to prefectural officials.

Briefings for the remaining residents will resume in September, they said.

A total of 39 residents declined to receive the tablets. Children under 3 will receive the equivalent at shelters in the event of a nuclear accident, the officials said.

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