Schools given a store of anti-radiation pills

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thousands of anti-radiation pills have been handed out to schools in Portsmouth and Gosport for the visit of a French nuclear sub.

Potassium iodate tablets are being held at schools within a 2km area of Portsmouth Naval Base in the event of a nuclear reactor meltdown.

The 113,000 pills – given out every time a nuclear sub visits the city –are designed to stop radiation from being absorbed by the thyroid gland.

The precaution was taken before the arrival of the 2,410-ton attack boat SNA Amethyste yesterday for a five-day visit. Stocks of tablets have been taken to distribution centres under a nuclear emergency plan drawn up by Portsmouth City Council.

A spokesman said: 'The tablets are distributed whenever a nuclear submarine visits. The tablets will be held at the distribution centres only for the duration of the submarine's visit.'

Amethyste, based in Toulon in the south of France, has just finished a 45-day operational patrol.

The boat, one of six in her class, has a crew of 70 under the command of 38 year-old warfare specialist Commander Francois Guichard.

Her sister vessel, Rubis, enjoyed a five-day visit to Portsmouth in January 2006.

She is due to leave Portsmouth on Tuesday, November 11

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