NAE Member George Apostolakis, NPRE Assistant Prof. Zahra Mohaghegh, promote PRA
Featured March 7 through the Grainger Lecture Series at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Honorable George Apostolakis presented on the topic of “Risk-Informed Regulatory Decision Making.”
Apostolakis discussed the dynamic nature of the regulatory environment and pointed out the many benefits of Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA), especially components that allow managers and regulators to “prioritize in terms of risk” as a logical means for prioritizing challenges.
Apostolakis, a PRA analyst, member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), former professor of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and former Commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), currently is Chief of the Nuclear Risk Research Center of Japan. During his time at the NRC, he headed the Risk Management Task Force, with the purpose of developing “a strategic vision and options for adopting a more comprehensive, holistic, risk-informed, performance-based regulatory approach” (Apostolakis, Cunningham, Lui, Pangburn, & Reckley, 2012).
In NUREG-2150, the seminal work of this Task Force, a vision for the evolution of PRA in Regulatory Decision-Making has been identified, and a Risk Management Regulatory Framework for improving safety and security in high-consequence industry applications is proposed. Apostolakis discussed the use of Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) as a key pillar in the Risk-Informed Regulatory Decision-Making framework of the NRC. He stated that a growing number of U.S. government agencies are evaluating the use of PRA for making decisions and setting policy.
As a recipient of the George Apostolakis Early-Career Award in Risk Assessment, Assistant Prof. Zahra Mohaghegh has been advancing PRA research and education in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at Illinois. Over the past four years, Mohaghegh and her Socio-Technical Risk Analysis (SoTeRiA) Laboratory have been contributing to the NUREG-2150 vision of developing risk models that provide “credible accident sequences by considering the facility or operation as a ‘system of systems’ consisting of structures, systems, components, and personnel” (Apostolakis et al., 2012).
The SoTeRiA Laboratory has initiated several areas of PRA methodological research and applications to meet demands faced by industry, including:
- Fire PRA
- Location-specific Loss-Of-Coolant Accident (LOCA) frequency estimations
- Risk-informed emergency preparedness, planning and response modeling for severe accidents
- Global risk importance measures
- Modeling the effects of human and organizational influences on technical system failure
- Estimating the monetary value of PRA
- Risk-informed resolution of Generic Safety Issue 191, a long-standing issue for commercial nuclear power plants and the NRC