Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Nuclear Safety Management: A Detailed Causal Model of Nuclear Power Plant Operation based on System Dynamics

Acuña, Santiago Gregorio1,a, Giménez, Marcelo Oscar1,b, Sánchez, Marisa Analía2, Di Nardo, Mario3 and Madsen, Dag Øivind4

1Nuclear Safety Department, Atomic Energy National Commission, Argentina.

2Departamento Ciencias de la Administración, Universidad Nacional del Sur, Argentina.

3Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Italy.

4Department of Business, Marketing and Law, University of South-Eastern Norway, Norway.


This paper presents a qualitative model based on system dynamics methodology to investigate the management of nuclear safety and availability in the operation of a nuclear power plant. By integrating human, technological, organizational, and environmental factors, the model aims to understand the complex dynamics that influence the prevention of nuclear accidents and the safe generation of electricity. Drawing on previous research, a literature review, and interviews with nuclear industry experts, the model identifies two causal reinforcement loops and six causal balance loops that capture the effective management of nuclear safety within power plant organizations. These findings offer valuable insights into the intricate dynamics of nuclear power plant operation, providing a comprehensive understanding of the factors that contribute to accident prevention. Furthermore, the analysis reveals potential tensions and trade-offs between nuclear safety and the electricity generation load factor. Balancing the pursuit of high availability with the imperative of maintaining safety poses significant challenges. The model sheds light on the interplay between these factors, offering insights into the dynamic trade-offs and emphasizing the need for careful decision-making and risk management strategies. Understanding and effectively managing these tensions and trade-offs are crucial for nuclear power plant operators. By leveraging the insights from this model, organizations can enhance their safety practices, optimize operational decisions, and proactively mitigate risks. This research contributes to the broader understanding of nuclear power plant operation dynamics and provides valuable guidance for maintaining a high nuclear safety and electricity generation performance.

Keywords: Nuclear safety management, Nuclear power plant, System dynamics.

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