Nuclear Safety and Beyond-Design-Basis Accidents

Back in 2009, Dr. Yehoshua Socol wrote in a memorandum:
It is beyond comprehension that a Chernobyl-type accident (that was undisputedly caused only through poor design and the terrifying misconduct and performance of the operators) may happen in a developed country. … Such an accident is, in simple terms, impossible. In spite of this, unfortunately, "impossible" accidents still happen – e.g. the 2001 AZF Toulouse fertiliser plant explosion.

Most regrettably, Dr. Socol was correct: the Fukushima disaster shocked the world. Fukushima was caused by an unforeseen natural cataclysm. There are many lessons to be learnt from Fukushima and the future reactors should be safer. However, there is now a clear understanding, that nuclear disasters – or, professionally speaking, beyond-design-basis accidents – can happen in any country, though extremely seldom.

Accepting the possibility of beyond-design-basis accidents by no means should cause the closure of nuclear energy programs. Indeed, the price of each nuclear disaster is high – but far not as high as many people tend to think. Even the Chernobyl accident, with all the existing controversy regarding its consequences, is certainly not the worst industrial disaster in history – compared, e.g., to the Bhopal chemical plant explosion, not to speak about the Banqiao Dam destruction.

However, side effects (including psychological and psychosomatic) of nuclear accidents, usually cause much more damage than the direct destruction of life and property: in the case of Chernobyl, hundreds of thousands of people suffered – generally due to evacuation, uncertainty, disrupted and unsettling family routine, etc. – but not from radiation (see our recent review on this subject, published by International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology). After Fukushima, according to the medical journal The Lancet, above 50 people died as an immediate result of the evacuation. And according to the Japanese Reconstruction Agency, the toll of evacuation-caused premature deaths reached above 1000 (!) during the first year after the accident. In another well-known case of the Goiânia (Brasil) accident with a radioactive source, about 20 people were actually hurt (4 died) – but 112,000 (!) overwhelmed the local hospitals.

Managing Beyond-Design-Basis Nuclear Accidents

Falcon Analytics will elaborate on mitigating the relevant consequences of beyond-design-basis nuclear accidents. Such mitigation should include novel practices for nuclear-emergency operations, developed by us on the basis of the Fukushima experience. In addition, due to the psychological factor just described above, preparing the public sensitively for the consequences of a nuclear accident, is an indispensable part of any contingency plan. The Falcon Analytics holistic approach, backed by disaster-management expert and policy adviser in the team, will tremendously reduce the damages of a possible nuclear accident in both material and human costs. Moreover, our approach will assist and support both the industry and the authorities to gain public backing for the nuclear power and, indeed, to deal professionally and knowledgably with the opponents.

Our Team

Dr. Yehoshua Socol, the Executive Analyst, completed his Ph.D. study in the field of experimental high-energy physics at the CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, near Geneva. Prior to that, he was trained as an armed corps officer in the Soviet Union, and later, became deeply entrenched in several hi-tech and security-related projects in Israel, involving both private companies and government agencies. Dr. Socol features in the Marquis Who's Who in Science and Engineering since 2008, and subsequently in Marquis Who's Who in the World since 2010. Falcon Analytics maintains a wide network of personal and professional relations with the highest grade specialists around the globe (Israel, USA, England, Germany, Russia amongst others). This highly successful network has functioned in excess of two decades.

Dr. Colonel (Res.) Efraim Laor holds Ph.D. in “Policy, Strategy and Administration of Large Scale Emergency Situations” from the King's College (London); Head, Masters' & Ph.D. Programmes in "Management of Disaster Areas", University of Haifa, Israel; Chairman, "Fast Israeli Rescue & Search Team" (F.I.R.S.T.); Team-Member, United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC); Former Chairperson, GOI Steering Committee for Disaster Reduction. Numerous Search & Rescue [SAR], Relief, Rehabilitation missions in Israel and abroad, Response to Earthquakes, Tsunami, Floods, Typhoon, Cyclone.

Dr. Moshe Yanovskiy heads the institutional economics' dept. at the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy (Moscow) and is an active member of the Public Choice Society. His professional interests include institutional economics, public choice theory and policy advice. With technical background (M.Sc. in electrical engineering), he has two decades of experience of public service and consulting to both government and private sector.