IEMA Offering Potassium Iodide to Residents Within 10 Miles of Nuclear Power Plants

July 7, 2017

Pills Available at Many Local Pharmacies

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) today announced plans to once again offer free Potassium Iodide (KI) pills to residents living within a 10-mile radius of the state’s six operating nuclear power plants. More than 60,000 homes within the Emergency Planning Zones (EPZs) of each plant are eligible for the pills.

IEMA obtained 215,000 pills for the distribution at no cost from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

KI is a non-prescription drug used to protect the thyroid from radioactive iodine, which could be released during a nuclear power plant accident. The state of Illinois previously distributed KI pills to residents near nuclear power plants in 2002 and 2012.

Pills that were previously provided to residents in these areas are nearing expiration, said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. In addition, there likely are people who moved into the Emergency Planning Zones since the last distribution, and others may have added family members or lost their pills.

Joseph noted KI only protects the thyroid gland from uptake of radioactive iodine, which could be released during a nuclear power plant incident. He said evacuation and sheltering in place are still the most effective ways to protect the whole body from radiation exposure, which remains the state’s top priority.

To obtain the free pills, people living within the 10-mile EPZ of a nuclear power plant can download a voucher and a list of participating pharmacies at​ or contact IEMA at 217-782-1326. The vouchers can be redeemed for a two-day supply of KI for every member of the household at 30 Walgreens locations, six CVS stores and five locally owned pharmacies.

The nuclear power plants in Illinois are Braidwood, Byron, Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle and Quad-Cities.

The state also maintains a supply of KI pills for emergency workers who would work in or near a contaminated area during a nuclear power plant accident.