Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder ParticipationVanderbilt University School of Engineering

Workshop on Risk Assessment and Safety Decision Making Under Uncertainty

September 21-22, 2010
North Bethesda, Md

Hosted by
Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP)
Vanderbilt University

Workshop Overview: 

The goal of this workshop is to understand the state-of-the-practice across a range of federal agencies and industries and the state-of-the-science for the use of qualitative, quantitative, and probabilistic risk assessments techniques as part of the decision basis for insuring safety for processes that have critical needs in protecting worker and public safety.  Specifically, the following questions are to be addressed: (i) when and what type of risk assessment should be used as part of safety decisions? (ii) how should deterministic and risk assessment techniques and results be integrated? (iii) how are and should risk assessment results be used in decision making? And (iv) what are current policies and processes used by federal agencies and private industries to guide use of risk assessments in safety management?  Lessons learned and best practices identified during this workshop will provide input into future practices to be used by DOE.

Many federal agencies (e.g., DOE, NRC, DOD, NASA, FAA) and industries (e.g., nuclear, chemical processing, aerospace) have needed approaches to identifying and mitigating risks over the full range of expected frequency of occurrence and magnitude of consequences.  A wide spectrum of approaches and tools/techniques ranging from qualitative to quantitative are available for uncertainty and risk assessment, and for decision-making under uncertainty. Performance evaluation of engineered systems is increasingly relying on the use of sophisticated computational tools, due to infeasibility or prohibitive cost of testing, decreasing product development cycles, or political/social factors. This gives rise to the need to address uncertainty in the model prediction and uncertainty regarding the use of model prediction results in the decision-making process.

All engineering decisions are made under some degree of uncertainty, arising from either natural variability of system properties and demands (aleatoric), or from lack of knowledge regarding the system behavior and operating conditions (epistemic).  Safety-related decisions require a structured approach to decision making under uncertainty to protect human health and focus allocation of resources in the context of mission requirements, constraints and risks.  Decisions are needed at every stage of the engineering system’s life cycle and processes, including during design, manufacturing/construction, operations, maintenance, and system retirement.  Safety policies, along with underlying concepts of risk and uncertainty, reliability and robustness play important roles in the decision making process. Decision making has to address the interests of multiple stakeholders, and there may be multiple decision-makers in large, complex systems, giving rise to uncertainty about the other decision-makers’ preferences/actions.  

The objectives of this workshop are to: (1) exchange information on the current approaches to safety assessment and decision making across a range of federal agencies, industries, and researchers, (2) identify best practices, and (3) identify key knowledge and methodological gaps and research needs. Participants are expected from DOE, NRC, DOD, NASA, FAA, DHS, national laboratories, academia, and nuclear, aerospace, chemical industries.

With links to Presentations

Tuesday September 21, 2010    


Session 1: Workshop Objectives and Challenges

Session Chair: Prof. D. Kosson, Vanderbilt University and CRESP

• Workshop introduction
Prof. D. Kosson, Vanderbilt University and CRESP View Presentation

• Safety Decision Making Under Uncertainty: One Board Member's Perspective View Statement
The Honorable Larry W. Brown, Member, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board

• Making Better Decisions with Probabilistic Risk Assessment
Dr. B.J. Garrick, Chair, Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board View Presentation


Session 2: DOE Activities & Challenges

Session Chair:  Prof. S. Mahadevan, Vanderbilt Univ. and CRESP

• National Nuclear Security Administration
Mr. J. McConnell, Assistant Deputy Administrator for Nuclear Safety, National Nuclear Security Administration View Presentation

•Department of Energy's Activities & Challenges.
Dr. J. O’Brien, Director, Office of Nuclear Safety Policy and Assistance View Presentation

ĽOne Perspective from a Chemical Industry.
Mr. S. Urbanik, Sr. Consultant, Process Safety & Fire Protection Engineering, E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, Inc View Presentation


Session 3: Examples of Current Uses of Risk Assessments in Safety Decisions

Session Chair:  Dr. J. O’Brien, Office of Nuclear Safety Policy and Assistance

•Safety Risk Management
Mr. M. Falteisek, Federal Aviation Administration, Air Traffic Organization-Office of Safety Manager, Safety Risk Management View Presentation

•The Probabilistic Risk Assessment of the Abandoned Chemical Weapons in China
Dr. D. Johnson, Vice President for Probabilistic Risk Analysis and Management, ABS Consulting View Presentation

•Risk Analysis for Truck Transportation of High Consequence Cargo
Dr. R. Waters, Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratory View Presentation


Session 4: Examples of Current Uses of Risk Assessments in Safety Decisions

Session Chair:  Mr. B. Hallbert, Director, Nuclear Safety and Regulatory Research, Idaho National Laboratory

•Use of QRA as Part of Hydrogen in Piping and Ancillary Vessels (HPAV) Design Assessment
Dr. R. Bari, Senior Physicist, Brookhaven National Laboratory View Presentation

•Probability and Provability in the Regulation of Food Additives and Contaminants
Dr. Clarke Carrington, Pharmacologist, Food and Drug Administration View Presentation

•Communicating Risk, Benefit, and Uncertainty for Biologics: A Case Study  
Dr. M. Walderhaug, Assoc. Director for Risk Assessment, Office of Biostatistics & Epidemiology, Food and Drug Administration (Contact L. Bliss for access to this presentation.)

Wednesday September 22, 2010


Session 5: Risk, Uncertainty and Decision Making - Concepts and Methods

Session Chair:  Mr. A. Wallo, Office of Nuclear Safety, Quality Assurance and Environment

•Uncertainty sources, types and quantification models for risk studies
Prof. B. Ayyub, Director, Center for Technology and Systems Management, Univ. of Maryland View Presentation

•Quantification of Margins and Uncertainty for Risk-Informed Decision Analysis
Dr. K. Alvin, Sandia National Laboratory View Presentation

•Quantitative Methods for Decision-Making Under Uncertainty
Prof. Sankaran Mahadevan, Vanderbilt Univ. & CRESP View Presentation

•Consideration of Human factors in Risk Assessment and Management
Mr. B. Hallbert, Director, Nuclear Safety and Regulatory Research, Idaho National Laboratory View Presentation

•Alternative Methods for Incorporating PRA Concepts Into the Safety Decision-Making Process
Prof. M. Abkowitz, Vanderbilt Univ., CRESP, and Member, Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board View Presentation


Session 6:  Approaches to Safety Decision Making under Uncertainty – Policies and Practices

Session Chair:  Prof. C. Powers, Vanderbilt Univ. and CRESP

•An Introduction to Current Practices at DOE
Dr. J. O’Brien, Director, Office of Nuclear Safety Policy and Assistance View Presentation

•Implementation of PRA Policy at US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Dr. M. Cunningham, Director of the Division of Risk Assessment, Nuclear Regulatory Commission View Presentation

•Nuclear Power Industry Experience with Risk-Informed Regulation
Mr. B. Bradley, Director, Risk Assessment, Nuclear Energy Institute View Presentation


Session 7:  Approaches to Safety Decision Making under Uncertainty– Policies and Practices

Session Chair:  Dr. R. Bari, Senior Physicist, Brookhaven National Laboratory

•Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Policy and Approach to Risk Management and Analysis
Mr. S. Breor, Deputy Director, Office of Risk Management and Analysis, and Dr. R. Kolasky, Assist. Director for Risk Governance and Support, Department of Homeland Security View Presentation

•NASA's Risk Management Approach
Dr. H. Dezfuli, NASA Technical Fellow (System Safety), NASA View Presentation

•Predicting Risk Through Modeling of Leaker Plumes
Mr. A. Cushen, P.E., Chief, Occupational Health and Safety, US Army Chemical Materials Agency View Presentation

Technical: David Kosson,, (615) 322-1064.

Organizing Committee:

CRESP Co-Chairmen
Prof. David S. Kosson, Vanderbilt University
Prof. Sankaran Mahadevan, Vanderbilt University

DOE Co-Chairmen
Dr. James O’Brien, Director, Office of Nuclear Safety Policy and Assistance
Dr. Steven Krahn, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Safety and Security, Office of Environmental Management

DOE Committee Members
Mr. James Hutton, Chief Nuclear Safety Advisor
Mr. Samuel Rosenbloom, Nuclear Engineer, Office of Nuclear Safety Policy
Ms. Leydi Velez, DOE Fellow, Applied Research Center, Florida International University

CRESP Staff Support
Ms. Lisa Bliss, Assistant Director, CRESP
Ms. Randi Hall, Administrative Assistant


This meeting is supported by the U. S. Department of Energy, under Cooperative Agreement Number DE-FC01-06EW07053 entitled ‘The Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation III’ awarded to Vanderbilt University. The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Energy or Vanderbilt University.

Disclaimer: This meeting was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government, or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.



Revised 9-30-10