Just a week after denying Germany’s request to shut down two of its oldest nuclear reactors, the Belgian government decided to distribute anti-radiation pills to its entire population. Do the authorities know something about the safety of its aging nuclear plants that it isn’t sharing ?

The two reactors in question are 40 years old, and their pressure vessels have shown signs of metal degradation, raising concerns over their safety. Belgium still gets 50 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. Germany, in contrast, has decided to shut down all of its nuclear reactors and to focus on renewable energy.

The decision to distribute the pills, which are also known as iodine pills and protect the thyroid from radioactive poisoning in case of a disaster, shows how worried Belgian officials are — and for good reason. Nuclear safety is an illusion, as two high-profile cases have shown. The Chernobyl reactor explosion 30 years ago and the ensuing radioactive fallout killed thousands and left land the size of Rhode Island unusable.

More recently, after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan, an increase to 56 percent of radioactive Cesium 137, which can cause cancer in exposed individuals, has been detected in Japanese fish. Cesium 137 has also entered the food chain in the Pacific Ocean, which has affected numerous countries that are dependent on the ocean water for its source of food and economy.

Therefore, Europe has a right to be worried about Belgium’s aging reactors and the government’s decision to distribute the anti-radiation pills does nothing to alleviate those concerns.

Here is a brief video on Belgian’s decision to give iodine pills over nuclear safety.

Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from thyroid (Cancer.gov) and nuclear symbol (OpenClipartVectors / Pixabay)

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Mary Braunch

I have some for Hanford Nuclear waste storage facility in Washington State which is leaking


The leaks at Hanford are massive and being pro-actively avoided bythe MSM and those responsible for the coming catastrophe in South East Washington state.

Reed Barnes

When people say leak I feel like they haven’t read the actual report. By leak they mean from primary to secondary tanks. The distance between the waste and the ground though is still another steel tank and a meter of concrete… But I digress. Radiation isn’t magic. It isn’t super acid. It’s chemistry. The second we add nuclear to something people **** their pants but the fact Brazil nuts are less radioactive than sea water,or that black sand is generally more radioactive than silicate sand? All natural.

Reed Barnes

If you google any area surrounding a nuclear reactor, they will freely distribute potassium iodide pills simply as a precaution. I am from Canada and if you live near the Bruce generating station you get the pills. You’ve never had to use them or had any notion of needing them, it is just simply a precaution. Being proactive is part of why nuclear is so safe.

I forget though, areas living near coal plants get filter masks for the radiation and particulates they’re breathing for that? Oh that is right, as long as you dump small amounts of radiation consistently while burning something else it’s fine.


Sounds like you or your relatives make your livings working for or promoting these certain to be dead zones in the near future.

Reed Barnes

I in fact am a masters student studying biochemistry. I don’t work with anything remotely connected to nuclear power. My parents are veterinarians. Although, I will admit my father worked for a few months (some 40 years ago) for a company in Saskatchewan that was doing uranium ore exploration.

Jeff Clyburn

… “why nuclear is so safe.” … If it takes over a decade (and nearly a billion dollars) to de-comission a nuclear plant, your industry is anything but “safe.”

To say nothing of nuclear’s inherent problem: A shortage of uranium, which already can’t meet but 2/3 of global demand.

Reed Barnes

Oddly, nearly every power generation facility needs to take into account decommissioning costs. These costs vary depending on the specific detailed plan. In the case of solar and wind farms, it is generally an upgrading of equipment. For example, the report for decommissioning of a 500kW facility solar in Chatham, Ontario puts aside around $35,000 for take-down. Over its lifetime, the facility is expected to generate with the most copious figures around 15-20GWh (35 year run time at 100% off-shelf efficiency) for the given area. So decommission costs of around 2000 per GWh? Contrast that with nuclear. Nucelar generally only starts in on GW scales, but have a usually 90+% capacity factor and shelf-lives upwards of 60 years (sometimes increasing in output over time). All in all, if you work out decommissioning costs it is relatively comparable between the two. With a 1GW rated at 90% and a 40 year lifetime costing a billion in take-down costs being about $3200/GWh. With wind turbines the facilities are either repowered or taken down. I have seen varied estimates but repowering worked in at about 50KW? Theses costs are usually factored in during construction.

As to Uranium shortage? I would be curious where you got that notion. I have seen statements saying Uranium mines only supply (x) amount of reactors. However, that is simply because the remainder is supplied through ex-military based applications and recovered fuels (It’s why Nuclear power is actually negatively correlated to nuclear weapons).

Jeff Clyburn

If you’re relying on decommissioning old cold war-era warheads to make up for a perpetual uranium shortage, does that sound like a sustainable model for an energy source you aim to expand going forward? Not to me…. Even the World Nuclear Association concedes 56K tons of global production up against 78K tons of global demand. … Again, where is the uranium going to come from?

Pretending plentiful low-grade ore constitutes some kind of uranium glut does not fix the unsustainable economic condition either, in much the same way that the oil and gas industry is going bankrupt trying to bring shale product to market.

Reed Barnes

A reliance on it? No. It’s more so the weapons grade fissionable material is being used simply to get rid of it. It’s the megatons to megawatts program. It’s not built to meet demand it’s there to reduce the weapons grade material. It’s there to get something positive out of basically a negative.

The actual uranium output is based on demand. There is no shortage or anything resembling it. Nearly all demands are met by Australia, Russia, kazhystan and Canada. They don’t stockpile extra low grade uranium. The produce a supply to meet demand (simple economics).

Also to shale gas, it can be profitable. As can bitumen sand based oil and gas. It’s only sustainable though at higher priced oil. That’s why Saudi Arabia tried flooding markets with cheap oil. They were trying to crush the American shale gas industry (and by happenstance the Canadian bitumen sand one too). Both can make money at higher prices similar to renewable energies. Once markets adjust to price different strategies become viable.

Like this isn’t even a good argument against nuclear power. The cheapest aspect of it is the fuel because it lasts so damn long (it’s less than $1000tonne…)

Jeff Clyburn

I see… So demand is measured by whatever is consumed? That’s a bizarre conceptualization of economics. … Odd that the WNA would list demand as 22,000 tons higher than production. Odd still that you would suppose they’re decommissioning warheads just out of convenience, not out of desperation to meet demand. Oddest still that numerous peer-reviewed studies expect a sharp decline in uranium production from here on out.

And yes, of course bitumen and kerogen-based oil extraction “can be profitable” to the industry when prices are “high enough.” Unfortunately, that says absolutely nothing about the public’s ability to afford their product at those prices, as we’ve seen time and time again when oil prices bumped up against a $100-110 ceiling, crushing demand and curtailing growth models. Any way you slice it, the economics just are not there for the harvesting of ever-dirtier and more expensive forms of fossil fuels. It’s a question of depletion, and the physics of depletion do not care about supply/demand assumptions. You can not assume infinite production levels (based on “sufficient” price) any more than 19th century Western settlers could have expected infinite numbers of buffalo if ony provided enough guns and scouts.


Top notch article , too bad the MSM refuses to run such fine pieces of journalism.


Would someone kindly explain to me what the blazes is an anti-radiation pill?


It’s a pill that is AGAINST nuclear power :)


It’s a pill that temporarily saturates the thyroid gland with non-radioactive stable potassium iodide in order that the thyroid, which is the most sensitive organ to radiation, is far less able to absorb radioactive iodine – a by-product of nuclear fission.