Purdue University Graduate School
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ANALYZING RISK THROUGH THE INTEGRATION OF NUCLEAR SAFETY AND SECURITY IN A RESEARCH REACTOR

thesis
posted on 2024-04-15, 14:10 authored by Theodore ThomasTheodore Thomas

Protecting workers, the public, and the environment from the potential hazards associated with radiation exposure relies on two disciplines: safety and security. Historically, these two disciplines operate in isolation, but new emerging threats have exploited weaknesses in the disciplines’ isolated practices. A method for overcoming weakness in isolation and strengthening protection is the integration of nuclear safety and security. Integration can provide increased protection for nuclear facilities and operations. This research identifies and fills gaps within integration research that promotes the active practice of integration.

Eight integration points were identified across the overlap of nuclear safety and security. Definitions for the points of overlap were determined using qualitative research methodologies. These definitions provided measurable aspects of practiced integration among the eight points. The eight integration points were also analyzed for importance using a quantitative methodology known as an analytical hierarchy process with an assisted Monte Carlo simulation. This study found that reactor staff placed access control and transportation of materials as the highest points of importance. However, a 10-year review of United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission violations and citations revealed culture as the most common issue for research reactors. This supports the need for a shift in perspective regarding nuclear safety and security practices.

An integration assessment tool was designed to measure the active practice of integrative techniques among research reactor staff. When applied to a research reactor, specific integration points were assessed, and an overall integration score for the facility was provided. The results of the integration assessment tool were applied to a newly developed integrated risk model that determined the facility’s vulnerability, consequences, and integrated risk score.

Through the efforts of this research, the eight points of integration have clearly and concisely identified how integration can be exercised at a facility level—this is something that has not yet been done. This research identified trends in safety and security practices that indicated strengths and weaknesses and how integration can improve those strengths and address the weaknesses. This research also provided a novel risk analysis model focused on actively applied integrative techniques instead of simulated hypothetical probabilities. Through this adjusted focus on integration, this research has found a new method for increasing the safety and security of nuclear operations.


Funding

n/a

History

Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy

Department

  • Health Science

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jason Harris

Additional Committee Member 2

Linda Nie

Additional Committee Member 3

Jason Specht

Additional Committee Member 4

Craig Marianno

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