Błażej Poboży made the announcement at a media briefing on Friday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.
He said that the government had moved to start distributing potassium-iodide pills amid concerns over fighting near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Poboży told reporters: “As part of crisis management and measures to protect the population, in the interests of the security of the citizens, in connection with media reports accompanying armed operations around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, we have decided to start proactive, advance distribution of potassium iodide tablets to county fire services.”
‘No reason to start distributing pills to citizens’
He said this was “routine, standard procedure, in line with legal provisions on the potential occurrence of a radiation threat, which … is not present at the moment.”
“There is no reason to start distributing the pills among the citizens,” Poboży stated.
“However, we must prepare for all eventualities, even those that seem impossible today,” he added.
The deputy interior minister said that in some regions the pills have already reached distribution points, which are usually set up in schools.
Poboży told reporters that the government had stockpiled more than 57 million potassium-iodide tablets, which would be more than enough to supply “everyone who might potentially have to take them.”
‘Zaporizhzhia nuclear station does not pose a threat to Poland’
Meanwhile, the head of Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency (PAA), Łukasz Młynarkiewicz, said that the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was “unprecedented” amid Russia's aggression against Ukraine.
Młynarkiewicz told reporters that “no nuclear facility should be subject to military operations,” adding that “nuclear power stations aren’t designed to withstand deliberate artillery shelling.”
He stressed that “the health and lives of the residents of Poland are not in danger.”
“The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station doesn’t pose a threat to us and this won’t change even when its reactors are switched back on,” Młynarkiewicz stated.
Fears of radiation disaster
Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the biggest in Europe, became the centre of world attention after fighting in its vicinity disrupted power supplies to the facility and raised fears of a radiation disaster, the Reuters news agency reported.
The plant was captured by Russian forces in the early days of the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russian troops have deployed military equipment and planted ammunition on the premises, the Ukrinform news agency reported.
The United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), visited the site in September, saying in a report afterwards: “The team observed the presence of Russian military personnel, vehicles and equipment at various places at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, including several military trucks on the ground floor of the Unit 1 and Unit 2 turbine halls and military vehicles stationed under the overpass connecting the reactor units.”
Russian forces have also been shelling the surrounding area and the plant site itself, destroying power lines and causing shutdowns of power units, according to the Ukrinform news agency.
Moscow blamed Kyiv for the incidents, news outlets reported.
On Monday, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said he was ready to hold talks in Ukraine and Russia this week “on setting up a protection zone” at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear station, which he says is “needed urgently,” according to the Reuters news agency.
Putin attempts to incorporate Zaporizhzhia into Russia
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed documents to incorporate four Ukrainian regions, including Zaporizhzhia, into Russia in a televised ceremony at the Kremlin, news outlets reported.
The move came after Russia held what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine and declared the annexation of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.
Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and unrepresentative, the Reuters news agency reported.
Friday was day 219 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters, polskieradio24.pl, ukrinform.net