CHALLENGES IN COMMUNICATING COMPLEX TECHNICAL ISSUES TO THE PUBLIC

Chernobyl and Fukushima

Elena Melikhova, IBRAE, Russia

Fukushima 2011
Radiologist as an emergency communicator

100 µSv/h ≈ 1000 x 0,1 µSv/h (natural background )

Chernobyl 1991
Radiation protection professional as an emergency communicator Intervention concept
Move inhabitants out only if lifetime dose > 350 mSv
Mr. Brakhudarov

Avg. dose mSv/y

No. of resettled ppl

The concept was qualified as genocide

Challenges
typical complains of technical experts
External Internal
• No easy answers (stochastic

• Exaggerated fears • No trust • No knowledge

effects, uncertainties in risk coefficients etc.)
• No simple guidance

(contradictive and misleading norms and regulations)

www.ibrae.ac.ru

Exaggerated fears
Victims of radiation
Event Effect
Immediate death

Facts
210 ths

Opinions
300 ths

A-bomb

Long-term effects in 86572 exposed survivors
Death in first 100 days

421
28
< 60

750 ths
40 ths 250 ths

Chernobyl

Long-term effects

Death in first months

0
0 (not expected)

20 ths**
100 ths
© 2012 IBRAE

Fukushima *

Expected long-term effects

5

Distrust of scientists
Russia: 2001
trust 15% don't know 42% distrust 43% Do you trust / distrust scientists when they state limited radiological consequences of Chernobyl?

Respondents - 560 risk managers in all regions of Russia

Fukushima 2011

© 2001 IBRAE

No knowledge & interest

www.russianatom.ru Gamma dose rates at 209 automatic posts around 16 nuclear installations all over Russia, in real time

Radiation situation in Fukushima

© 2012 SCK•CEN

Russia
100% 80% % статей 60% 40% 20% 0% Используются 18% 82%

N=103

Не используются

© 2012 IBRAE

Radiation risk - no easy answers
Chernobyl Forum 2005
By the mid of 2005 there were less than 50 deaths that can be directly attributed to radiation exposure: 28 in first 100 days + 12 in next years + 9 kids died of thyroid cancer Prognosis for 95 years after the accident: from 0 up to 4000

• A total of up to four thousand

people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) accident

Stochastic effects
• Risk = Probability of death (injury)
Q: What is probability to meet a mammoth in Red Square? A: Either 1 or 0

Barnaul, Siberia

No easy answers
SPIEGEL interviewed Mr. Yamashita • SPIEGEL: And to help people relax, you also said that doses of 100 millisievert per year would be fine? This is normally the limit for nuclear power plant workers in emergency conditions. • Yamashita: I did not say that 100 millisievert is fine and no reason to worry. I just said that below that threshold we cannot prove a higher risk for cancer. That is the evidence from research in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Chernobyl.

Scientifically ungrounded norms
• Dangerous dose = TV tower • Permissible dose limit = a brick Any excess over permissible limits

inevitably provokes anxiety and selfprotection behavior

Glossary
for development EPI massages regarding radiation risk
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Accident Accident Protection ARSMS Impact on Health Dose Containment Protection Measures INES Incident Iodine Prophylaxis Radiation Sickness Non-Standard Situation Violation of Normal Operation Exposed/Affected Objective Data Reactor Shut Down Limits of Safe Operation Radiation Monitoring Radioactive Contamination Radionuclide Sanitary Protection Zone Shelter Background Emergency Situation

© 2012 IBRAE

Objective data
In natural sciences objective data are based on observation, measurement or test that might be reconfirmed / corroborated “ASKRO data are objective as the system of radiation control works in automatic mode”
from Rosenergoatom press-release

In social sciences data are objective if the content presents not personal but conventional point of view

Risk Communication in Emergency
V. Covello and P. Sandman Communication Goals

 Risk = Hazard + Outrage  Mental noise  Caring / Empathy

Enhance knowledge and

understanding Build trust and credibility Encourage appropriate behaviors and levels of concern

Big picture questions
• Do we need to communicate complicated risk issues to the public in radiation emergency? • Why? • enhance knowledge/understanding? • deserve confidence? • prevent improper behavior? • How plain should be the “plain language”? • Is it important / possible to explain risk uncertainties and methods to win out over “low-dose alarmists”? • Is it possible explain risk and its uncertainties to those who did not like math in school? • Is it possible to harmonize radiation risk regulation at national and international levels and make it an easy guide for the public?