In the case of a nuclear emergency where radiation is emitted, officials have determined that potassium iodide pills can be taken to prevent damage to the thyroid gland, according to the Food and Drug Administration Web site.
The Web site also states that the drug protects the gland from cancer-causing contaminants by saturating it with iodine.
Keith Poston, spokesman for Carolina Power & Light Co., said Shearon Harris has enough pills to distribute to a small group of employees who would work during an emergency.
But Poston also said neither the state nor plant officials are working to make these pills available to residents who live in the risk zone. Plant officials identify the risk zone as the area within a 10-mile radius of the plant.
Poston said he believes the potassium iodide pills should not be distributed broadly because the pills are not supposed to be taken whenever radiation is present. "It would have to be a fairly catastrophic event," Poston said. "(Potassium iodide pills) are not used for routine incidents."
Poston added that the drug was merely part of the protective gear needed in an emergency and that the officials' primary focus in the event of a nuclear catastrophe would be on evacuating residents and not on distributing the pills.
"(Potassium iodide pills) are only kept for a small group of employees who would work in an environment that needs this kind of protection," Poston said.
But some New Hill residents who live near the Shearon Harris plant said they are frustrated by their lack of knowledge about the drug and want to know more about making it available.
Farmer Woodrow Goodwin lives at 4300 Shearon Harris Road and can see the towers of the nuclear power plant from the windows of his house.