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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19002.
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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

Washington, D.C.

www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19002.
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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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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19002.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.nationalacademies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19002.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19002.
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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

Staff

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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19002.
×

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

Staff

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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19002.
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Reviewer Acknowledgement

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.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19002.
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Preface

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.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19002.
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  • 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.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19002.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19002.
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Abbreviations

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
 
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2014. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident: Summary of a Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/19002.
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KI Potassium Iodide
 
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
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The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident summarizes the presentations and discussions of the May 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 co-hosted by the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Cancer Institute. 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 heightens 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 Beebe symposium explored how experiences from past nuclear plant accidents can be used to mitigate the consequences of future accidents, if they occur. The Science of Responding to a Nuclear Reactor Accident addresses off-site emergency response and long-term management of the accident consequences; estimating radiation exposures of affected populations; health effects and population monitoring; other radiological consequences; and communication among plant officials, government officials, and the public and the role of the media.

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