A Little (Radioactive) Taste of Springfield

December 28, 2009

We just received a calendar in the mail – the cover features a lovely sepia photo of an old church in a nearby town.

How nice, I thought. The NH Historical Society is sending out calendars to area residents.

Then I took a closer look at the calendar and realized it is the official 2010 Emergency Public Information Calendar for “neighbors of Seabrook Station.” Seabrook is the nuclear power plant a few towns over.

Interspersed with the folksy antique photos of churches, sailing ships, and homes are some seriously not-messing-around instructions for what we’re supposed to do in the event of an incident (they seem to be avoiding the terms “meltdown” and “China Syndrome,” for some reason).

Every included town has its own map with emergency bus information and routes, as well as information about “Reception Centers” – a welcoming and highly euphemistic term for “Where you go when life as you know it comes to a screeching halt.”

There’s also a classification of kinds of emergencies – my favorite is the “unusual event,” classified as a “minor event…no release of radioactive matter is expected…you would not have to do anything.” I guess this is when, e.g., Homer Simpson spills his coffee on the reactor control panel but nothing gets shorted out. The most serious is the “general emergency,” when radioactive matter is not only expected to be released, but “could go well beyond the plant site.” (Homer enters the plant, switches off all of the containment protections, and begins flinging radioactive doughnuts at passing cars.)

The good news is that there’s a whole page about potassium iodide (KI) – where to get it, proper dosages for everyone from adults to infants, and how it protects our thyroid glands from absorbing a radioactive form of iodine that might be released during a nuclear incident. Young children should be given only an eighth of a tablet, and “children should receive their dose in milk, water, applesauce, or pudding.”

I’m quite certain that, in the event of a “general emergency,” I will not have the presence of mind to be juggling pill-splitters and Jell-O pudding cups. Fortunately, the calendar goes on to say (with incongruous enthusiasm) that “In an emergency situation where it is not possible to cut a tablet into these sizes, administer the complete 130-mg. tablet. The benefits of doing so far outweigh the risks of overdosing!”

I am not feeling reassured.

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One Response to “A Little (Radioactive) Taste of Springfield”


  1. kids should not be given a dose of potassium iodide in water. It is bitter and will not mask the taste if dissolved in water. best to use chocolate milk or orange juice.


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