On Tuesday, pharmacies in Vilnius started handing out iodide pills to the residents of the Lithuanian capital.
Despite Lithuania’s continuing protests, Belarus is gearing up to launch its Astravyets nuclear plant some 50 kilometres from Vilnius. Lithuanian officials say the plant is unsafe, an allegation Minsk denies.
Astravyets NPP, due to become fully operational in 2021, already started nuclear fission reactions earlier in October. Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Health Ministry has distributed 4 million potassium iodide pills in 16 municipalities within 100 kilometres of the plant.
Used to protect the thyroid in case of a nuclear disaster, the medicine in Vilnius can be picked up free of charge at the Eurovaistinė, Camelia, Gintarinė Vaistinė, Norfos Vaistinė, and Benu pharmacy chains.
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People need to first receive a prescription from Centro Poliklinika, which operates numerous health facilities in Vilnius.
"Although the risk of an accident is very low and we hope that people will not need to use the pills, we need to get the residents prepared," said Povilas Poderskis, director of administration at Vilnius Municipality.
According to Vilnius municipality, residents would be instructed to take the pills in case of an accident at the nuclear plant. People in the Lithuanian capital would be warned by sirens, text messages sent to their mobile phones, and via the media.
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