Potassium iodide (KI) Pill Working Group
In 2019, the CNSC established a Potassium Iodide (KI) Pill Working Group and Advisory Committee to provide clarity on the existing plans and associated responsible authorities to distribute KI pills in the Ingestion Planning Zone (IPZ), in the event of an emergency at the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station (see figure 1).
The Working Group, chaired by the CNSC, is co-chaired by the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM), the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG). The Working Group also has representatives from Health Canada; and Public Health Units and Emergency Management Coordinators from Peel Region, York Region, City of Toronto, Durham Region, Simcoe Muskoka District, Haliburton-Kawartha-Pine Ridge District, and Peterborough County.
Figure 1. Pickering Nuclear Generating Station Ingestion Planning Zone
Source: Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management
Pickering Nuclear Generating Station Ingestion Planning Zone Map:
Detailed planning zone (3-10km)
Contingency planning zone (10-20km)
Ingestion planning zone:
sub zones 1-8 (20-30km)
sub zone 9-16 (30-50 km)
What is KI?
In the event of a nuclear emergency, KI is effective in reducing the threat of thyroid cancer to residents at risk of inhaling or ingesting radioactive iodine. The CNSC established regulatory requirements for nuclear power plant licensees to ensure that KI pills are pre-distributed to everyone within 10 km of all power plants. Regional, municipal and provincial authorities responsible for emergency management, including the Province of Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal & Emergency Management and the New Brunswick Emergency Management Organization, also facilitate the pre-distribution of KI pills.
Terms of Reference
Terms of reference (TOR) for the Working Group were developed and signed by the OFMEM, MOHLTC, OPG and the CNSC, with input from the public and other municipal, provincial and federal authorities. As captured in the TOR the Working Group has the following mandate:
- The Working Group will be fulfilling the commitment to the Commission in two phases as per the record of decision:
Phase I Phase II
- Identifying current provincial and federal requirements for the distribution of KI pills
- Describing existing considerations and education concerning KI pill emergency distribution in the IPZ
- Describing the means of KI pill distribution in relation to other factors associated with a nuclear emergency response
- Reviewing the availability and scope of public emergency preparedness information related to KI pills
- Determining the feasibility of pre-distribution of KI pills to all schools within the IPZ
- Establishing clear and detailed plans for the distribution of KI pills throughout the IPZ, if necessary, following the completion of Phase I
These milestones will be updated throughout the project, and opportunities for public input will be advertised through the CNSC website, social media and the CNSC email subscription list.
CNSC Advisory Committee
The purpose of the CNSC Advisory Committee is to ensure that opportunities are provided for meaningful engagement on the outputs of the CNSC KI Pill Working Group. The Advisory Committee includes representatives from the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board, Bruce Power, the Municipality of Kincardine, and academia. The Advisory Committee is expected to review the key deliverables of the Working Group (i.e., TOR, Phase I report, Phase II report) and advise whether the mandate of the Working Group as defined in the TOR has been achieved. Operating procedures were developed to establish the framework and guiding principles for the Advisory Committee’s role with respect to the Working Group.
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