Residents living near the nuclear power plant in Pickering, Ont., will soon start receiving anti-radiation pills in the mail to protect them in the event of a radiation leak at the facility.

Starting in October, anyone living within a 10-kilometre radius of the Pickering Nuclear Plant will receive a pack of potassium iodide (KI) pills that help prevent thyroid cancer caused by exposure to radioactivity.

“It fills up your thyroid with iodine and therefore, if you ever get exposed to radioactive iodine, it can’t get into your thyroid and it prevents thyroid cancer,” said Ken Gorman, Durham region’s director of environmental health.

More than 200,000 homes and businesses near the plant will receive kits containing the pills and a brochure explaining how to administer the treatment. Each package contains enough pills for one family. 

Until now, potassium iodide pills have been available at local pharmacies to anyone who wanted to stock up. But in October 2014, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission ordered that the pill be distributed to all Canadians living or working within 10 kilometres of a nuclear facility.

In the event of a leak at a nuclear plant, residents are asked to evacuate the area as quickly as possible. If this isn’t possible, the provincial emergency authority recommends that people stay indoors and wait for instruction from authorities.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Austin Delaney