Episode 15 – Disowning Fukushima

Sociologist John Downer talks about his recent paper, “Disowning Fukushima: Managing the Credibility of Nuclear Reliability Assessment in the Wake of Disaster”. If you’re in the business of producing or relying on quantitative risk assessment, what do you do when an event such as Fukushima occurs? Do you say that the event didn’t happen? Do you claim that the risk assessment wasn’t wrong? Do you say that their risk assessment was wrong, but yours isn’t? Maybe you admit that there was a problem, but claim that everything has now been sorted out.

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1 Comment

  1. Andy Dickson
    Posted September 17, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Permalink


    Another excellent episode, although I must admit it made me reconsider the day job! While the focus was on the nuclear industry, the concept of arguing “safety by numbers” crops up with regularity when discussing new products.

    The only question I would have is my “understanding” of probability, if it is calculated at occuring once in say a hundred years, it doesn’t say when in that hundred years it will occur! It may happen in the first week and never again for the rest of the period!

    Keep up the good work

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