Economically optimal strategies for medium-term recovery after a major nuclear reactor accident

D. Yumashev, P. Johnson*, P. J. Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
245 Downloads (Pure)


The dynamic process of ground contamination after a major nuclear accident is modelled, and the system is then extended to include the transient equations describing the three broad countermeasures: food bans, remediation and population movement (relocation and repopulation). Countermeasures are assumed to be applicable once the deposition period has ended and surface contamination measurements have stabilised. A value function is constructed to account for the major economic factors, including allowance for the detrimental effect on human health of radiation exposure. The principle of optimality is then applied by requiring the value function to satisfy the Hamilton–Jacobi–Bellman partial differential equation, yielding an economically optimal combination of the countermeasures at any given moment of time within the recovery period. A classification into Broad Strategies is made in order to explore the similarities in structure of optimal strategies for wide ranges of economic parameter values. Population relocation forms no part of any optimal strategy in the Base Case (or Case I) as parameters are varied over a wide range. Strategies incorporating relocation have a low probability of being optimal even in the low-probability sensitivity studies of Case II, where relocation is imposed immediately the accident happens, and Case III, where the Base Case assumption is reversed of lower economic productivity awaiting those moving from the original to the new area. It is concluded that relocation is almost certain to be a less than optimal response after a great many large-scale nuclear accidents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-76
Number of pages14
JournalProcess Safety and Environmental Protection
Early online date20 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Accident modelling
  • Economic optimality
  • Hamilton–Jacobi–Bellman equation
  • Nuclear accident
  • Optimal control
  • Principle of optimality


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