1. At the european level
Within the EURATOM framework, numerous research projects have been devoted since 2011 to the main issues linked to the management of nuclear post-accident situation, in particular:
PREPARE project (2013-2016) made it possible to review the operational procedures to deal with long-lasting radioactive releases;
CathyMARA project (2015-2017) focused on strategies for monitoring and evaluating doses to the thyroid;
SHAMISEN project (2015-2017) focused on recommendations for medical and health surveillance of affected populations;
CONFIDENCE project (2017-2019) aimed to reduce the uncertainties of radiological data in the field of long-term rehabilitation;
TERRITORIES project (2017-2019) focused on uncertainties reduction and stakeholders involvement towards integrated and graded risk management of humans and wildlife in long-lasting radiological exposure situations
SHAMISEN-SINGS project (2018-2020) focused on improving dosimetric, medical and health surveillance and involving stakeholders in this area;
- Finally, the
ENGAGE project (2018-2020) addressed the issue of strengthening the participation of stakeholders in the governance of radiological risks.
It should be noted that, in all the projects listed above, the involvement of stakeholders is addressed through the participation of panels (experts, decision-makers, the public through NGOs, etc.). In most cases, these panels conducted situation reviews and discussed the recommendations proposed by the consortium.
In addition, since the Fukushima accident, a major effort has been made at an European level to implement research projects intended to provide valuable inputs for the management of long-term nuclear accidents.
Also, in 2017, the European
NERIS platform, dedicated to emergency preparedness for nuclear and radiological emergency response and rehabilitation, adopted its first roadmap for the further development of research taking into account the latest developments and the first lessons learned from the management of the Fukushima accident. This roadmap identifies three main challenges:
- assessment of the radiological impact during all phases of a nuclear accident: the objective is to improve modeling, radiological monitoring and data assimilation;
- protection strategies: the objective is a better knowledge of countermeasures and countermeasure strategies in emergency and recovery, decision support and disaster informatics;
- establishment of a transdisciplinary and inclusive framework: this challenge aims to develop strategies for the engagement, involvement and participation of stakeholders on different aspects such as health surveillance, socio-economic aspects, non-radiological aspects as well as taking into account uncertainties and incomplete information.
2. At the French level
The accident that occurred in March 2011 at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan stressed the importance of an approach such as the one initiated since 2005 by the CODIRPA, the steering committee for managing the post-accident phase of a nuclear accident or radiological emergency situation piloted by the French nuclear safety authority (ASN). The consequences of this event have placed the CODIRPA in front of new challenges. The approach was therefore continued and enriched, in particular on the management of the consequences of a large-scale accident leading to long-term releases (several days). The elements of the post-accident doctrine, which had been made public in 2012, are being updated, moving towards simplification of zoning and better consideration of the risk of exposure by ingestion of foodstuffs. The CODIRPA continues to involve actors from various backgrounds: local and national administrations, institutional experts, operators, elected officials, associations, CLI, representatives of foreign radiation protection authorities, etc.
3. Inside IRSN
The nuclear safety and radiation Protection Research Policy committee (or COR), an advisory body to the IRSN Board of directors, assesses the relevance of its research activities and their ability to meet the expectations of authorities and society. It took an interest in the activities dedicated to remediation processes in the years 2017-2018 and made several recommendations in the areas of taking into account citizen science, health surveillance, human and social sciences and the involvement of civil society in the governance of the Institute's research. Several actions have been carried out in this direction within IRSN.
The role of experts with the population
Experience feedback from the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents highlighted the complexity of post-accident situations and the need for radiation protection experts to engage with the affected population to work together in order to provide appropriate protection and to participate in the rehabilitation of living conditions in the territories.
The implementation of this co-expertise process remains a challenge for IRSN because such a position is unusual for its experts. To better prepare them to work with populations in the event of a nuclear accident, IRSN organized, with the help of the
CEPN (Center for the Assessment of Protection in the Nuclear Field), two awareness-raising workshops in 2014:
- the first enabled a meeting between IRSN staff and Japanese experts who were involved in the Fukushima region who spoke about their experiences in the field;
- the second, with the participation of Japanese experts and citizens, focused on the mechanisms of their involvement and their methodology for working with the population.
Reflection on the co-expertise process continued in conjunction with the CEPN and Japanese experts and resulted in the publication of a
More recently, IRSN, always in conjunction with the CEPN, has initiated a new reflection on how its experts can position themselves at the service of populations residing in areas affected by a nuclear accident. The reflections, still underway, have already made it possible to identify three guidelines:
- ensure the long-term presence of experts in the field;
- strengthen the capacity of affected people to make informed decisions;
- relay local concerns so that they are taken into account in the management of the situation at the national level.
It should be noted that this dimension of the expert's role is not yet clearly integrated into existing emergency plans.
The social and political consequences of the Fukushima accident
SHINRAI project ("confidence", in Japanese) is a Franco-Japanese research project started in 2014, coordinated by IRSN and aimed at studying the social and political consequences of the Fukushima accident of 2011. It is mainly interested in the methods of decision-making by the authorities in a post-accident context, and their impact on the population. The project studies the role of the public expert, his trustworthiness (ability to earn the trust of citizens), and his accountability (ability to account for his decisions), including (and above all) in a context where strictly scientific data do not on their own make it possible to settle and legitimize decisions. SHINRAI is finally interested in the challenges of the nuclear disaster for our democracies, by questioning the methods of involving citizens in the decisions related to post-accident management. The main aim was to understand more precisely the mechanisms of loss of confidence of citizens towards the authorities and their experts after the nuclear accident and to analyze the modalities of the emergence of new citizen experts, or "counter-experts".
The originality of this project is that it is based on an in-depth survey carried out among residents of Fukushima prefecture, either returned to their locality of origin or sometimes evacuated to distant places. It is the subject of a research partnership between three institutions: IRSN (France), the Paris Institute of Political Studies - Sciences Po (France) and the Tokyo University of Technology (Japan). More generally, this research aims to shed political and sociological light on the issues of land management after a nuclear accident: management policy for contaminated areas, choice of evacuation, radiological threshold, role and limits of decontamination, waste management, etc.
After the Fukushima Daiichi accident, many initiatives emerged to allow everyone to carry out their own measurements of radioactivity in the environment.
In Japan, from March 2011, Japanese citizens wanted to form their own opinion on the radiological risk to which they were exposed using dosimeters available on the market. The
Safecast association was created to share the measurements taken on sites, in particular through maps. Gradually, the tools for measuring the contamination of territories have multiplied so that everyone can better understand their environment and the level of ambient radioactivity.
In the same vein, IRSN has developed, with the French Institute for Major Risks and Environmental Trainers (IFFO-RME), the Planète Sciences association and Sorbonne Universités, an open science project named
OpenRadiation. It allows citizens to participate in the measurement of radioactivity in the environment and to share the results of measure, carried out both in France and around the world, via dynamic mapping. It also offers those who participate in data collection, tools for collaborative work.