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Monday, March 20, 2023

EU Donates 5 Million Tablets to Protect Ukrainians from Potential Radiation Exposure

On August 26, the European Union (EU) received a request for potassium iodide tablets from the Government of Ukraine as a preventative safety measure to increase the level of protection around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The potassium iodide tablets would be used in limited scenarios to avoid inhaled or swallowed radioactive iodine being absorbed by the thyroid.

In response, the EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre has swiftly mobilized 5.5 million potassium iodide tablets via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism for Ukraine, including 5 million from the rescEU emergency reserves and 500,000 from Austria. With a total financial value of over €500,000, the brunt of the assistance will be delivered to Ukraine from the rescEU reserve hosted by Germany.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has been occupied by Russian forces since the early weeks of the conflict and has come under repeated shelling in recent weeks.

EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said: “No nuclear power plant should ever be used as a war theater. It is unacceptable that civilian lives are put in danger. All military action around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant must stop immediately. The EU is pre-emptively delivering five million potassium iodide tablets to Ukraine from the rescEU strategic reserves to offer people protection in case of exposure to high levels of radiation. I want to thank Austria for donating an additional 500,000 tablets to Ukraine. We will continue to be on the lookout and stand ready to act, because preparedness saves lives.”

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday, the latest stage in their efforts to inspect conditions at the embattled nuclear power plant there. The team’s priorities include ensuring nuclear safety and security at the plant, as well as undertaking vital safeguard activities, and assessing the working conditions of the Ukrainian personnel working there. IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said the mission will take a few days, adding that it could be “prolonged” if they can establish a continued presence at the site.

On Friday, the BBC reported that Grossi said the “plant and physical integrity of the plant” had been “violated several times”.

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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