Some Probabilistic Aspects of Safety Assessment

  • W. A. ThompsonJr.
Part of the Environmental Science Research book series (ESRH, volume 21)


Recent events at Three Mile Island have focused national attention on the task of assessing the safety of complex industrial facilities, see Lewis (1980). Prior to Three Mile Island a Reactor Safety Study (1975) was prepared. The purpose of the report is indicated by its subtitle “An Assessment of Accident Risks in U. S. Commercial Nuclear Power Plants.” This Reactor Safety Study (R.S.S.) is the state of the art of safety assessment, at least for energy related problems. Evaluating the risk of a technological innovation such as a nuclear power plant is a difficult interdisciplinary problem. A new discipline, risk analysis, is being developed to treat such questions. Risk analysis has significant probabilistic and statistical components but as yet there has been little input from professional statisticians, see Easterling (1980). In the case of the R.S.S., presumably this is because the problem was perceived as being in the domain of the nuclear engineer.


Nuclear Power Plant Safety Assessment Safety System Motor Vehicle Accident Specific Force 
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  1. Easterling, Robert G., 1980, Reactor safety study, Amer. Statistician, 34:61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Lewis, Harold W., 1980, The safety of fission reactors, Sci. Amer., 242:53–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Reactor Safety Study, 1975, NRC Report WASH-1400 (NUREG-75/014), NTIS.Google Scholar
  4. Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1978 ed., U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, GPO.Google Scholar
  5. Thompson, W. A., Jr., 1979, Competing risk presentation of reactor safety studies, Nuclear Safety, 4:414–417.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. A. ThompsonJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Statistics DepartmentUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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