The Science of Responding to a
Nuclear Reactor Accident
SUMMARY OF A SYMPOSIUM
Ourania Kosti, Rapporteur
Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board
Division on Earth and Life Studies
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
The symposium was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health through a subcontract from RTI International (Subcontract 15-312-0212208) and the Environmental Protection Agency, Radiation Protection Division (Grant EP-14-M-000026). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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PLANNING COMMITTEE FOR THE SYMPOSIUM ON THE SCIENCE OF RESPONDING TO A NUCLEAR REACTOR ACCIDENT
MARTHA S. LINET, Chair, National Cancer Institute
JOHN S. APPLEGATE, Indiana University
JEROME S. PUSKIN, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
ADELA SALAME-ALFIE, New York State Department of Health
STEVEN L. SIMON, National Cancer Institute
OURANIA (RANIA) KOSTI, Study Director and Rapporteur, Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board
KEVIN CROWLEY, Director, Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board
DARLENE GROS, Senior Program Assistant
TONI GREENLEAF, Financial and Administrative Associate
ERIN WINGO, Senior Program Assistant
NUCLEAR AND RADIATION STUDIES BOARD
ROBERT C. DYNES (Chair), University of California, San Diego
BARBARA J. MCNEIL (Vice Chair), Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JOHN S. APPLEGATE, Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington
DAVID J. BRENNER, Columbia University, New York, New York
MARGARET S. Y. CHU, M.S. Chu & Associates, LLC, Albuquerque, New Mexico
MICHAEL L. CORRADINI, University of Wisconsin, Madison
TISSA H. ILLANGASEKARE, Colorado School of Mines, Golden
CAROL M. JANTZEN, Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, South Carolina
ANNIE B. KERSTING, Glenn T. Seaborg Institute, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California
MARTHA S. LINET, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
FRED A. METTLER, JR., New Mexico VA Health Care System, Albuquerque
NANCY JO NICHOLAS, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico
LAWRENCE T. PAPAY, PQR, LLC, La Jolla, California (deceased)
DANIEL O. STRAM, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
RICHARD J. VETTER, Mayo Clinic (retired), Rochester, Minnesota
SERGEY V. YUDINTSEV, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
KEVIN D. CROWLEY, Director
JENNIFER A. HEIMBERG, Senior Program Officer
OURANIA (RANIA) KOSTI, Senior Program Officer
TONI GREENLEAF, Administrative and Financial Associate
LAURA D. LLANOS, Administrative and Financial Associate
DARLENE GROS, Senior Program Assistant
ERIN WINGO, Senior Program Assistant
This symposium summary has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published summary as sound as possible and to ensure that the summary meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this symposium summary:
Armin Ansari, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Vincent Covello, Center for Risk Communication
Scott Davis, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center
Barbara Hamrick, University of California, Irvine
Jill Lipoti, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (retired)
Steve Simon, National Cancer Institute
Harold Swartz, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they did not see the final draft of the symposium summary before its release. The review of this summary was overseen by Paul Locke, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this summary was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this summary rests entirely with the author and the institution.
This document provides a summary of the presentations and discussions that took place during the May 13, 2014, Gilbert W. Beebe Symposium titled The Science and Response to a Nuclear Reactor Accident. The symposium, dedicated in honor of the distinguished National Cancer Institute radiation epidemiologist who died in 2003, was organized by a committee of five members with expertise in emergency preparedness, radiation epidemiology, radiation dosimetry, and risk communication.1 The symposium was cohosted by the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Cancer Institute and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health through a subcontract from RTI International and by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The symposium topic was prompted by the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that was initiated by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami off the northeast coast of Japan. This was the fourth major nuclear accident that has occurred since the beginning of the nuclear age some 60 years ago. The 1957 Windscale accident in the United Kingdom caused by a fire in the reactor, the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in the United States caused by mechanical and human errors, and the 1986 Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union caused by a series of human errors during the conduct of a reactor experiment are the other three major accidents. The rarity of nuclear accidents and the limited amount of existing experiences that have been assembled over the decades heighten the importance of learning from the past.
This year’s symposium promoted discussions among federal, state, academic, research institute, and news media representatives on current scientific knowledge and response plans for nuclear reactor accidents. The symposium addressed the following statement of task:
This Beebe symposium will explore how experiences from past nuclear plant accidents can be used to mitigate the consequences of future accidents, if they occur. More specifically, the symposium will address lessons learned regarding:
- Offsite emergency response (e.g., shelter, prophylactic medicine, evacuation) and long-term management of the accident consequences (e.g., cleanup of contaminated areas, resettlement).
- Estimating radiation exposures of affected populations.
- Health effects (e.g., mental distress, cancer, other diseases) and population monitoring.
1 See the summary’s front matter for the organizing committee membership.
- Other radiological consequences (e.g., land and water contamination, disruption of food distribution, disruption of the economy).
- Communication among plant officials, government officials, and the public and the role of the media.
The symposium will not address the causes of nuclear accidents or examine lessons learned regarding nuclear power plant design, operations, or regulations.
The symposium featured a range of expert briefings2 on the topics listed above. These briefings and discussions are summarized in Chapter 2.
Chapter 1 of this summary is based on a White Paper distributed to symposium participants to provide background information on the symposium topics. The White Paper describes some federal and state responsibilities and introduces the nomenclature related to protective action guidance during different phases of a nuclear reactor accident. The chapter is also informed by a symposium presentation about nuclear reactor accidents by Dr. Steven Simon, head, Dosimetry Unit, Radiation Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute (NCI).
This symposium summary was prepared by Dr. Ourania Kosti, who is a staff member of the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board, National Academy of Sciences. She is responsible for the overall quality and accuracy of the report as a record of what transpired at the symposium. This report is primarily a narrative description of the individual symposium participants’ perspectives. It does not provide findings or recommendations or represent a consensus reached by the symposium participants or the symposium planning committee.
2 See Appendix A for the symposium agenda and Appendix B for short biographic information on the symposium speakers and moderators.
|AFRRI||Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute|
|AMS||Aerial Measuring System|
|ASPR||Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response|
|CBRN||Chemical, Biological, Radiological, or Nuclear|
|CDC||Centers for Disease Control and Prevention|
|CRCPD||Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors|
|DHS||Department of Homeland Security|
|DILS||Derived Intervention Levels|
|DoD||Department of Defense|
|DOE||Department of Energy|
|DTRA||Defense Threat Reduction Agency|
|EPA||Environmental Protection Agency|
|EPZ||Emergency Planning Zone|
|ERDS||Emergency Response Data System|
|ESF||Emergency Support Function|
|FDA||Food and Drug Administration|
|FEMA||Federal Emergency Management Agency|
|FRMAC||Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center|
|HHS||Department of Health and Human Services|
|IAEA||International Atomic Energy Agency|
|ICRP||International Commission on Radiological Protection|
|IMAAC||Interagency Modeling and Atmospheric Assessment Center|
|NARAC||National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center|
|NCRP||National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements|
|NNSA||National Nuclear Security Administration|
|NRC||Nuclear Regulatory Commission|
|NRF||National Response Framework|
|PAGs||Protective Action Guides|
|PHEMCE||Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise|
|POD||Points of Dispensing|
|REAC/TS||Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site|
|SNS||Strategic National Stockpile|
|UNSCEAR||United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation|
|USDA||Department of Agriculture|