A Systems-theoretic Framing For An Integrated Nuclear Energy Safety, Safeguards, And Security (3s) Approach

Adam D. Williams - Sandia National Laboratories
Benjamin Cipiti - Sandia National Laboratories
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To support the successful—and peaceful—implementation of advanced nuclear reactors (AR) and small modular reactors (SMR), there is a need apply technologies, training, policies, and protocols to meet safety (e.g., preventing unintentional radiological releases), safeguards (e.g., preventing military use of nuclear technologies), and security (e.g., protecting against intentional radiological release or theft) objectives. Yet, in the words of former Deputy Director-General for Safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency Olli Heinonen “Safeguards, security, and safety are commonly seen as separate areas in nuclear governance⋯[though] Each has a synergistic effect on the other⋯[that] contribute to the effectiveness of the nuclear order.”As a response, current research at Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) has investigated how systems theory principles and complex systems engineering concepts frame the complexities of interactions between traditional safety, safeguards, and security in the nuclear sector. For example, this research suggests there is a significant benefit from viewing nuclear security as an emergent property that is influenced by its interactions with well-understood nuclear safety processes and international safeguards regimes. This Sandia research indicated some key benefits from explicitly incorporating interactions into the analytical framework, namely in terms of bettering identifying interdependencies, conflicts, gaps and leverage points across traditional safety, security, and safeguards hazard mitigation strategies. After introducing how key concepts in systems theory provide a logical framework to capture interactions between safety, safeguards, and security in nuclear activities, this paper will describe an approach that Sandia has employed to explore the risk complexity from these interactions. Next, this paper will summarize and describe the results of applying this approach to several nuclear energy-related case studies—spent nuclear fuel transportation, small modular reactors, and portable nuclear power reactors. Lastly, this paper will discuss the conclusions, insights, implications, and next steps of Sandia’s systems-theoretic framing for an integrated nuclear energy safety, safeguards, and security approach.SAND2021-1896 A. SNL is managed and operated by NTESS under DOE NNSA contract DE-NA0003525