Legislative Memos

Memorandum in Strong Opposition S.1714 (Carlucci) / A.6231 (Peoples-Stokes)

S.1714 (Carlucci) / A.6231 (Peoples-Stokes) – AN ACT relating to the distribution of potassium iodide in a radiological emergency

The Independent Power Producers of New York, Inc. (IPPNY) is a trade association representing companies involved in the development of electric generating facilities, the generation, sale, and marketing of electric power, and the development of natural gas facilities in the State of New York. IPPNY represents almost 75 percent of the electric generating capacity in New York.

IPPNY strongly opposes S.1714 (Carlucci) / A.6231 (Peoples-Stokes).  The requirements for emergency preparedness related to nuclear energy facilities is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government under the specific purview of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The NRC is responsible for assessing the adequacy of onsite emergency plans developed by the nuclear power plants, while FEMA is responsible for assessing the adequacy of offsite emergency planning. The NRC and FEMA work together to determine and implement detailed emergency plans for each emergency planning zone to protect residents. These plans are updated as appropriate and/or needed and are tested regularly by licensees, federal regulators, and state and local emergency management officials. Any future changes should be made at the Federal Government level to ensure consistency across the states.

Extensive scientific studies have been conducted by emergency planning officials regarding the low probability of an accident at a United States nuclear power plant.  With input from a variety of stakeholders and federal agencies, the NRC and the EPA jointly published a report detailing the planning basis for the development of state and local government radiological emergency response plans for nuclear power plants.  It was determined that a 10 mile radius around a nuclear power plant is an appropriate emergency planning zone. Emergency planning experts have not found a scientific justification to distribute potassium iodide pills beyond this 10 mile radius. 

Absent such justification, the potential exists for inconsistent use of the potassium iodide drug, creating unjustified fear in the public or, even worse, inappropriate overconfidence about the effectiveness of the drug in addition to the potential for the public not to follow more effective protective action strategies recommended by response organizations, including governmental entities. Among those strategies are sheltering and/or evacuation of the area near the source of the radiation, external decontamination of affected individuals, and preventing potentially contaminated food and milk from reaching consumers. The expanded use of potassium iodide should not be adopted as an alternative to the implementation of established preventative measures.

Each nuclear facility works with its state and local public safety partners to ensure that the response capability is comprehensive and well-integrated to ensure public health and safety. Distribution of potassium iodide to the public is a county responsibility. The NRC, through the Federal Government, provides the funding for the supply of potassium iodide for a state that chooses to incorporate the distribution of this substance as a part of a comprehensive and robust emergency plan within the 10 mile radius of the nuclear power plant. The State of New York, along with 21 other states in the country, opted into this federal program. The State of New York applies to the NRC for this funding; however, this legislation proposes to increase the distribution of potassium iodide beyond the 10 mile radius of a nuclear power plant, but it does not indicate how the State of New York would fund such an endeavor that has not been endorsed by the scientific community.

For the reasons stated above, IPPNY strongly opposes S.1714 (Carlucci) / A.6231 (Peoples-Stokes).