Uncertainty handling during nuclear accidents.

In the years following Chernobyl, many reports and projects reflected on how to improve emergency management processes in dealing with an accidental offsite release of radiation at a nuclear facility. A common observation was the need to address the inevitable uncertainties. Various suggestions were made and some of these were researched in some depth. The Fukushima Daiichi Disaster has led to further reflections. However, many of the uncertainties inherent in responding to a threatened or actual release remain unaddressed in the analyses and model runs that are conducted to support the emergency managers in their decision making. They are often left to factor in allowances for the uncertainty through informal discussion and unsupported judgement, and the full range of sources of uncertainty may not be addressed. In this paper, we summarise the issues and report on a project which has investigated the handling of uncertainty in the UK’s national crisis cell. We suggest the R&D programmes needed to provide emergency managers with better guidance on uncertainty and how it may affect the consequences of taking different countermeasures.