Many E. Liverpool residents turn out for pill distribution
Another pill distribution is set for Tuesday, officials say.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
EAST LIVERPOOL -- Rumors of war and the shadow of terrorism are among the reasons why some city residents visited Trinity Presbyterian Church.
But they didn't go there Friday to pray.
They were there for two small pills wrapped in foil and being handed out by area health and emergency management officials.
The potassium-iodide tablets are to be taken only in the event of an emergency at the nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pa. The medication is intended to help stop radioactive material from entering the thyroid.
The Beaver Valley Power Station is a few miles east of the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line.
That's close enough, federal, state and local health officials say, to warrant distributing the pills to residents living within a 10-mile radius of the plant.
In Ohio, that 10-mile radius includes East Liverpool and parts of Liverpool, St. Clair and Middleton townships.
Who is eligible
About 25,000 Ohio residents in those areas are eligible to receive the free medication, said Gary Ryan, East Liverpool health commissioner. Ryan was among the officials overseeing the pill distribution Friday.
Based on similar distributions in other parts of the country, about 20 percent of the people eligible to get the pills actually pick them up through the distribution process, said Dixie Morris of the Columbiana County Health Department.
As of about 11 a.m. Friday, nearly 100 people had come in for the pills, Ryan reported.
That's a good turnout, especially considering Friday's cold and snowy weather, Ryan said.
Terrorism was a common concern among many asked what prompted them to participate in the voluntary pill distribution.
"I'd probably get them anyway," said Tom Schneidmiller of East Liverpool. But the threat of war with Iraq and its potential for increasing the threat of terrorism "pushed me a little bit," Schneidmiller said. "It's a different world out there," he added.
"We're obviously headed to war," said Sharyn Frame of East Liverpool. "I live so close to the power plant. It's scary."
Terrorism "is in the back of your mind," said Thomas Hunter of East Liverpool, who came with his daughter to get the pills. "Everybody should take precautions," Hunter added.
Friday's distribution was intended for East Liverpool residents.
Another pill giveaway for those living outside the city is slated for 1 to 4 and 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the St. Clair Township administration office on Calcutta-Smiths Ferry Road.
For more information, contact the Columbiana County Health Department at (330) 424-0272.