Uncertainty handling during nuclear accidents

S. French, Nikos Argyris, Stephanie Haywood, M. Hort, J. Q. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-24
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the International ISCRAM Conference
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event14th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, ISCRAM 2017 - Albi, France
Duration: 21 May 201724 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Our recent work has been funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council under grant reference number EP/K007580/1 and by the UK Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling Liaison Committee, as well as by the organisations in which we work. Before that we have worked on many UK and European research and development projects relating to crisis management. We have had many useful discussions with colleagues on these projects and more generally across the community of emergency managers. We are grateful to all for their thoughts and input. However, we would emphasise that the views expressed here are ours and are not necessarily held by any of our funders or colleagues.


  • Deep uncertainty
  • Displaying spatial uncertainty
  • Nuclear emergency management
  • Scenario-focused analysis


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