Over 4 million boxes of iodine tablets have begun arriving in pharmacies across Belgium as the country prepares for a possible emergency involving one of its seven aging nuclear reactors, AFP reports. According to CNN, iodine tablets, which help with radiation buildup in the thyroid gland, will be provided free to all Belgium residents. Young people and pregnant women especially are encouraged to pick up a box. The distribution of iodine, first announced two years ago, is joined by evacuation plans, a website informing people what to do in case of an emergency, and an emergency text system. A spokesperson for Belgium's national crisis center says "citizens must also prepare to help themselves the day something happens."
Belgium's nuclear plants are starting to crack and leak, and there was also a recent incident of sabotage that remains unsolved. The aging reactors are such a concern that Belgium's neighbors are starting to act. Last year, a German city near the border distributed free iodine pills to half a million residents. Belgium's interior minister Jan Jambon says "there is no specific risk" from the plants at the moment, but they want to "properly inform" the public. A representative for the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control adds: "The new emergency plan has not been issued in response to any perceived threats and does not indicate an increase in the risks associated with nuclear power plants in Belgium."