- Category: Articles
- Published: Wednesday, 06 January 2021 10:57
SCHNEIDER T., OUGHTON D., CARDIS E.
Environment International Vol. 144, 2020.
Serious accidents at nuclear power plants have been rare, but their stories can teach us how to prevent or mitigate the effects of future nuclear catastrophes. The accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and Chernobyl nuclear power plant occurred 9 years and 34 years ago, respectively, and there are still lessons to learn from them regarding numerous issues, including radiation exposure assessment and medical follow-up of emergency responders, evacuees and residents; decisions to lift evacuation orders; and communication with responders and stakeholders (Bazyka et al., 2016, Callen and Homma, 2017, Lester, 1983, Soffer et al., 2008). Some of the lessons from these accidents have been extensively reviewed and taken into consideration by national and international organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Commission on Radiological Protection and the World Health Organisation and are reflected in published literature (Bennett et al., 2006, Carr et al., 2016, Clarke and Valentin, 2009, IAEA, 2015a, IAEA, 2015b, Nisbet et al., 2009, SGDSN, 2014). This has allowed the development of various recommendations and guidance documents targeting specific issues of radiation protection, training and communication, and socio-economic aspects, in order to prepare and improve decision making processes in the early and intermediate phases (e.g. Carr et al., 2016, IAEA, 2015b, Nisbet et al., 2009).
However, the majority of these texts focus on technical issues and are directed towards radiation protection experts, rather than for the support of affected populations. The traditional approaches of emergency response and recovery - including evacuation, relocation and health surveillance - are largely based on dose levels. Although many recognise the importance of psychosocial or human factors, it has been difficult to adapt the approaches to better address the social, economic, ethical and psychological factors. These include the health and welfare effects that may arise from the accident, from the concerns about the presence of radiation in the environment, from the mitigation actions taken and from the information (mixed or absent) provided to the population. Changes in the ethical and legal requirements for personal data collection, use and storage raise additional challenges, particularly in the area of health surveillance and epidemiology.