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Nearly 100,000 anti-radiation pills handed out to residents near nuclear submarines in case of meltdown

NEARLY 100,000 anti-radiation pills have been handed out to residents of three English ports in case nuclear submarines go into meltdown, Declassified UK has found.

The medication, issued between 2016 and 2021 in Plymouth, Portland and Barrow-in-Furness, went to nurseries, schools, care homes and clinics near naval docks.

The figures were revealed in a freedom of information request by the investigative website.

Nuclear-powered submarines are built for the Royal Navy by arms company BAE Systems at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, and the vessels moor at sites such as Devonport dockyard in Plymouth and Dorset’s Portland harbour.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) general secretary Kate Hudson said: “The production, servicing and berthing of nuclear powered submarines in or near population centres presents an unacceptable health risk.

“Safeguarding our communities cannot be achieved through limited distribution of pills.”

She added that the vessels, some of which carry nuclear warheads, “need to be disarmed and decommissioned.”

Retired NHS physician and health campaigner Dr Frank Boulton said: “Were a meltdown to occur in dock, substantial quantities of highly radioactive iodine would be released.

“People exposed would be at high risk of developing thyroid cancers as a result of absorbing shortlived isotopes of radio-iodine.”

He said that if people take stable iodine tablets within a few hours of exposure the risk would be “substantially reduced,” but added that it would be ineffective against harmful radioisotopes of the different elements also released.

In the event of a leak, air, food and water would be contaminated.

In Barrow-in-Furness, BAE expects people 400 metres downwind of a submarine would need to take iodine in the “first few hours of a radiation emergency.”

The area includes dozens of densely packed terraced houses, a museum, hotels, a supermarket, superstore and council offices.


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