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New Risk Analysis Tools Benefit Nuclear Utilities
Posted on March 29th, 2016

Risk analysis is the process of analyzing the “risk” associated with performing a task or series of actions. Any action we take in life has inherent risk. 

The process of risk analysis includes determining the risks associated with performing actions as well as the initiating event(s), or risk driver(s), which have a distinct probability of causing the risk.  This process ultimately involves the understanding of consequences of the risk.

Most risk consequences can be grouped into one of four general categories:

Health: The risk that the action(s) will cause injury or death,

Cost: The risk that the action(s) will incur monetary cost or increase cost,

Delay: The risk that the action(s) will delay or normal schedule, or

Reputation: The risk that the action(s) will cause an adverse impact on our reputation.

For instance, when you get in your car each morning and drive to work, you take a risk that the car behind you may not stop (the risk driver) and you might be in an accident (the risk) where you might get an injury (the health consequence).  You also might encounter road work (the risk driver) which will lead to traffic (the risk) which will cause you to be late in getting to work (the delay consequence).  Many times the risks that cause delay consequences have cost consequences as well.  For instance, if we realize the risk of traffic and have a delay consequence, we will most likely have a slight cost consequence due to the extra gas.    We can all imagine several examples of actions that could damage our reputation and lead to negative consequences. 

By reliably analyzing and quantifying drivers and consequences associated with potential risks in the workplace, businesses can implement effective control mechanisms to prevent drivers from causing risks.  In addition, mitigation mechanisms can also be employed to minimize the effect of risk consequences if they do occur.

The most effective risk analysis methods employ the use of advanced Monte-Carlo simulation technology to more accurately predict the probabilities and impacts of risk consequences to better understand the cost of controlling and mitigating them.  Insurance companies and monetary lending institutions are among the types of businesses that have been using these techniques to limit their business liabilities and be more successful.

Recently, RSCS teamed with Vose Software to customize risk analysis tools for the nuclear energy industry. Vose Software has adapted and applied advanced risk analysis processes to develop a series of state-of-the-art software tools that are easily used to evaluate radiological project risk.  RSCS applied their extensive experience in the planning of complex and high risk radiological work to develop inputs for various risk scenarios. Together, they have customized these tools to meet the demanding needs of nuclear project work and are currently applying them to help a large decommissioning nuclear site more accurately plan and control the outcomes of their work.

The following software tools are used to apply these advanced risk analysis processes as follows:

ModelRisk:  This ExcelTM Add-In (first released by Vose in 2008) allows for Monte-Carlo analysis of a wide range of scenarios.  It contains over 100 built-in distributions, it can do advanced parameter correlations and many others.  RSCS has been using Modelrisk for various applications including, dose reconstruction, schedule projections, and revenue projections.

Tamara:  This new Vose commercial software product has been recently adapted and installed at a NPP decommissioning site.  Its purpose is to perform Monte-Carlo schedule risk analysis.  Tamara can import a complex schedule created in MS Project or Primavera.  Once imported, the user can assign work uncertainties, productivity uncertainty, and risk event consequences to any task or to groups of tasks.  The calculations performed by Tamara account for the impact of tasks performed in series, parallel and also those that have predecessors.  The output of Tamara can show schedule uncertainties in a variety of formats including probability density curves and tornado plots.  These outputs allow decision-makers to identify scheduled items that have the highest probability of impacting schedule delays and to apply controls and mitigating strategies more effectively.  The output of Tamara can be exported to ModelRisk to perform more in-depth cost consequence analysis.

Risk Dashboard:  This new Vose commercial software product is designed to store and manage a sites risk register.  It interfaces seamlessly with Tamara to assign risk consequences easily to project schedule.  Risks are defined and quantified, along with their drivers and consequences.  Then individual control and mitigating mechanisms can be applied that reduces the probability and impact of risk consequences.  This product includes a database that allows multiple users to contribute to the risk register and for import of the database directly into Tamara.

While these software tools have been customized to support decommissioning project work, it is anticipated that they will benefit the entire energy industry.  Detailed risk analysis training and procedures are currently under development, to further support the efficient application of these methods. 

Shown in the photo is our risk analysis team David Vose, Timour Koupeev, Eric Darois, James Tarzia, and Joe Carignan at the end of a system installation in March.


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