.From yahoo news:
"Amid concerns of wider contamination, a nuclear safety official said the government was caught off-guard by the accident's severity and only belatedly realized the need to give potassium iodide to those living within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex..
"The pills help reduce the chances of thyroid cancer, one of the diseases that may develop from radiation exposure. The official, Kazuma Yokota, said an explosion at the plant's Unit 3 reactor last Sunday should have triggered the distribution. But the order only came three days later.
"'We should have made this decision and announced it sooner,' Yokota told reporters at the emergency command center in the city of Fukushima. "'t is true that we had not foreseen a disaster of these proportions. We had not practiced or trained for something this bad. We must admit that we were not fully prepared.'"