For several years, IRSN has been conducting researches on the economical costs of nuclear accidents involving radioactive releases in the environment. A short presentation of these studies took place during the Eurosafe Forum in November 2012.
Preparing for a nuclear accident implies understanding potential consequences. While many specialized experts have been working on different particular aspects, surprisingly little effort has been dedicated to establishing the big picture and providing a global and balanced image of all major consequences.
IRSN has been working on the cost of nuclear accidents, an exercise which must strive to be as comprehensive as possible since any omission obviously underestimates the cost. It therefore provides (ideally) an estimate of all cost components, thus revealing the structure of accident costs, and hence sketching a global picture.
On a French PWR, it appears that controlled releases would cause an “economical” accident with limited radiological consequences when compared to other costs; in contrast, massive releases would trigger a major crisis with strong radiological consequences. The two types of crises would confront managers with different types of challenges.
Download the paper by Patrick Momal and Ludivine Pascucci-Cahen presented during the Eurosafe Forum : Massive radiological releases profoundly differ from controlled releases (pdf)