ICRP Ethical Foundations of System of Radiological Protection

The ICRP have issued a draft paper on the Ethical Foundations of the System of Radiological Protection which makes interesting reading. It contains a great quote “Radiation protection is not only a matter for science. It is a problem of philosophy, and morality, and the utmost wisdom” (Taylor, 1957).

The paper states that “The traditional emphasis on the science of radiation has shown its limits and is now recognised that human and ethical dimensions of exposure situations are important and sometimes decisive in the decision process”.

It then reviews the history of radiation protection from preventing deterministic effects “do no harm” (from 1928), managing the probability of harm to people (from 1955), to protecting non-human species and the environment (1977) and considering the diversity of exposure situations (2007).

It then considers, in retrospect, the ethical values of beneficence and non-maleficence, prudence, Justice and dignity.

It concludes that in the future we may see the assessment of collective and individual well-being of exposed people including mental and social aspects.

Worst reasonable case and public communication

A House of Commons Science and Technology Committee paper from 2011 Scientific advice and evidence in emergencies , Third Report of Session 2010–11 concludes that  it “had misgivings about the Government’s communication of what it termed ‘reasonable worst case scenarios’, that is, the worst situation that might reasonably happen”.

The committee believed that “While such scenarios are useful for organisations preparing for, and responding to, emergencies, use of such scenarios led to sensationalised media reporting about the projected deaths from swine flu. We concluded that the Government must establish the concept of ‘most probable scenarios’ with the public, in all future emergencies”.

It also reported (para 82) that for bird flu it chose not to take the fatality rate from the bird flu of 60% but the 2% from Spanish Flu as the worst number gave a situation that was “almost unpreparable for” leading to (para 87) “We are concerned that the word “reasonable” appears to be influenced by the need to find a reasonable level of public expenditure for contingency planning rather than outlining the worst scenario that might realistically happen, based on the best available evidence“.

So, Worst Reasonable Case is not good for public communication and not always used as the basis for planning assumptions.



Consultation on JESIP

There is a new consultation on the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability framework (here) which provides access to the draft Second Edition of the Framework (here).

This is a very well written document that is very useful to any organisation, such as a REPPIR or COMAH site, that trains to respond to major incidents with the emergency services.

At 50 pages long you might struggle to get your Command Team to read the whole document but it makes a great basis for a Command and Control training course and as a guide when writing your emergency response manuals.

New IAEA Guidance on siting

ns-r-3 There is a new IAEA Safety Standard on site Evaluation that states that:

2.29. The external zone for a proposed site shall be established with account taken of the potential for radiological consequences for people and the feasibility of implementing emergency plans, and of any external events or phenomena that might hinder their implementation. Before construction of the nuclear installation is started, it shall be confirmed that there will be no insurmountable difficulties in establishing an emergency plan for the external zone before the start of operation of the installation.

Where the “external zone” is the likely future UPZ, by default 25 km.

It’ll be interesting to see how the ONR seek to establish off-site planning around new build especially as they want the Local Authorities to take the lead.