D 9.25: Case descriptions for characterization and response to uncertainty in past nuclear emergencies

Deborah Oughton, Tanja Perko, Bieke Abelshausen, Joke Kenens, Michiel Van Oudheusden, Catrinel Turcanu, Roser Sala, Christian Oltra, Y. Tomkiv, Mélanie Maître, Thierry Schneider, Nadja Zeleznik

    Research outputpeer-review


    Seven different case studies of nuclear and radiological events have been evaluated as a preliminary basis for identifying and categorising different types of uncertainties associated with emergency response. These include five recent incidents affecting European countries (Fleurus, Belgium, Asco, Spain, Tricastin, France, Halden, Norway, and Krsko, Slovenia), a retrospective analysis of the management of uncertainties in Norway after the Chernobyl accident, and a study of citizen science after the Fukushima accident. The analysis is primarily based on a document review, with support from preliminary media analysis and interviews. The overall objective has been to elucidate the understanding and response to scientific and social uncertainties, and related ethical issues. The intention is that the case descriptions will serve as a starting point for a more robust analysis of empirical and qualitative data collected in the context of the project work related to social, ethical and communicational aspects of uncertainty management. The document review identified a range of different uncertainties that have been roughly categorised in to uncertainties related to: 1) technical and measurement uncertainties; 2) societal impacts and societal framing; 3) contradictory information and communication aspects; 4) ethical aspects. While the Fukushima citizen science case took a slightly different point of departure from the other case studies – starting with interviews rather than document review, there was still some overlap with uncertainties identified for the European cases. The case discussed five types of uncertainties: 1. uncertainties related to nuclear accident management and safety implications; 2. uncertainties related to society and family life; 3. uncertainties related to governmental approach to post-accident recovery; 4. uncertainties related to the relationship between science and society; and 5. uncertainties related to citizen radiation measuring centres. The characterisation of different uncertainties will continue to be refined following a more robust evaluation and comparison of the results of media analysis and structured interviews carried out with selected cases. Combined with other activities in CONFIDENCE WP5 the results will inform further work in the work package in order to investigate: i) Lay persons and emergency actors’ understanding and processing of uncertain information, and subsequent behaviour, in nuclear emergency situations; ii) Societal uncertainties and ethical issues in emergency and post-accident situations, from the early phase to recovery; iii) Improved tools for communication of uncertainties, specifically for low radiation doses.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherEC - European Commission
    Number of pages56
    StatePublished - 1 Jun 2018

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