Back to search

EU-STRA-Strålevern

CONFIDENCE: COping with uNcertainties For Improved modelling and DEcision making in Nuclear emergenCiEs - NMBU

Alternative title: CONFIDENCE: Håndtering av usikkerhet i nuklær beredskap

Awarded: NOK 0.66 mill.

The overall aim of the CONFIDENCE EU project is to improve decision making for the protection of the population affected by nuclear emergencies and to minimise disruption of normal living conditions. In nuclear emergency management, dealing with uncertain information on the current situation, or predicted evolution of the situation, is an intrinsic problem for decision making. Uncertain information related to, for instance, incomplete information on the source term and the prevailing weather can result in dose assessments that differ dramatically from reality. Uncertainty can lead to ineffective decisions being (e.g. too conservative or optimistic predictions, inadequately accounting of non-radiological risks), which may result in more overall harm than good. Examples include the secondary causalities observed following the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents. To date, research carried out by NMBU in CONFIDENCE has focused three main areas: The preparation of accidental scenarios used in model development, studies on the transfer of radionuclides in food-chains, and addressing stakeholder needs and concerns in emergency management. Scenarios have been developed for two hypothetical scenarios: 1) deposition of radionuclides in Western Norway following an accident at the Sellafield reprocessing plant; and 2) an accident following spent reactor fuel transport along the coast of Norway. As part of the Western Norway scenario, eight different models and decision support modules were linked in order to assess the total human and environmental consequences. In the floating reactor accident, work has focused on improving the source term. Outputs of both scenarios showed potential for severe consequences in Norway, in terms of environmental contamination and food production, and, for the floating reactor accident, needs for evacuation. Field studies on rye, grass and potatoes, as well as studies of iodine metabolism in cows have been carried out to improve knowledge of food-chain transfer of I-131, one of the most important radionuclides in the acute phase of an accident. New data on biomass dilution and translocation will be used to update transfer models; the cow studies show the importance of diet on milk transfer, which has implications for countermeasures. Finally, a series of studies have been carried out on the way different uncertainties (including social and ethical uncertainties) affect the decisions and choices made by authorities during emergencies. This has been carried out by analysis of case studies (including for Norway, Chernobyl and the Halden I-131 releases), observations of emergency preparedness exercises, and focus group studies of publics concerns and needs in a nuclear emergency. Work during the next phase of the project will focus primarily on using result to improve models and response guidelines, as well as dissemination activities through stakeholder and training workshops.

To date the project has provided valuable information for reducing uncertainties and improving models dealing with the emergency phase of a nuclear accident. This includes improvement of the source term in accidental scenarios, and factors influencing transfer in human food chains. Characterisation of social and ethical uncertainties will be important for future model development work. Since the project still has over a year to go, we expect the full benefits to be seen during the next 12 months. Regarding networking, the project, and NMBUs comtribution, has been presented at key international emergency prepardeness meetings in 2017 and 2018 (a total of 6 presentations). Within Norway interaction with stakeholders and end-users has included authorities, emergency preparedness experts and the general public.

In nuclear emergency management and long-term rehabilitation, dealing with uncertain information on the current situation, or predicted evolution of the situation, is an intrinsic problem for decision making. Uncertain information related to, for instance, incomplete information on the source term and the prevailing weather can result in dose assessments that differ dramatically from reality. Uncertainty is also an intrinsic part of model parameters. In the presence of uncertainty, ineffective decisions are often taken (e.g. too conservative or optimistic predictions, inadequately accounting of non-radiological risks), which may result in more overall harm than good due to secondary causalities as observed following the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents. Therefore, the reduction of uncertainty, and how to deal with uncertain information, is essential to improve decision making for the protection of the affected population and to minimise disruption of normal living conditions. The CONFIDENCE Project, funded under the H2020 CONCERT project, will perform research focussed on uncertainties in the area of emergency management and long-term rehabilitation, bringing together 32 partner organisations from accross Europe. It concentrates on the early and transition phases of an emergency, and combines scientific and modelling studies with social research on the preferences and opinions of stakeholders (including the public) and decision-makers (including radiological protection experts), as well as communication of uncertainties and training workshops. The project is comprised of 7 Work Packages (WPs), and NMBU is involved in 5 of these: WP1: Model Improvement through Uncertainty Analysis. WP3: Radioecological Modelling WP5: Social, Ethical and communicational aspects of Uncertainty Management WP6: Decision-Making Under Uncertainties WP7: Education and Training

Publications from Cristin

No publications found

No publications found

Funding scheme:

EU-STRA-Strålevern