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Working Paper

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In this paper, we expand upon previously reported results of a dynamical systems model for the impact of plant processes and programmatic performance on nuclear plant safety risk. We utilize both analytical techniques and numerical simulations typical of the analysis of nonlinear dynamical systems to obtain insights important for effective risk management. This includes use of bifurcation diagrams to show that period doubling bifurcations and regions of chaotic dynamics can occur. We also investigate the impact of risk mitigating functions (equipment reliability and loss prevention) on plant safety risk and demonstrate that these functions are capable of improving risk to levels that are better than those that are represented in a traditional risk assessment. Next, we analyze the system response to the presence of external noise and obtain some conclusions with respect to the allocation of resources to ensure that safety is maintained at optimal levels. In particular, we demonstrate that the model supports the importance of management and regulator attention to plants that have demonstrated poor performance by providing an external stimulus to obtain desired improvements. Equally important, the model suggests that excessive intervention, by either plant management or regulatory authorities, can have a deleterious impact on safety for plants that are operating with very effective programs and processes. Finally, we propose a modification to the model that accounts for the impact of plant risk culture on process performance and plant safety risk. We then use numerical simulations to demonstrate the important safety benefits of a strong risk culture.


Political Science

Research Areas

Political Science

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.