Effective Risk Communication: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Guidelines for Internal Risk Communication — Quick Reference Guide (NUREG/BR-0318, Supplement 1)
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Date Published: December 2004
A. Szabo, J. Persensky/NRC
L. Peterson, E. Specht, N. Goodman, R. Black/WPI
6 Montgomery Village Avenue, Suite 650
Gaithersburg, MD 20879
Division of Risk Analysis and Applications
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001
As the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) integrates risk analysis into its regulatory activities, the “agency” must improve risk communication with both internal and external stakeholders to ensure management excellence and openness in the agency’s regulatory processes. Risk communication is the essential link between risk analysis, risk management, and the public. In addition, risk analysis and risk management are two essential elements in the NRC's decision-making process.
A primary challenge to effective risk communication is the difference between how the NRC and the public define or perceive risk. The NRC’s assessment of risk balances the likelihood of an occurrence against its possible consequences. The public's perception of risk, however, is based on the probability that something bad will happen, compounded by aspects of the situation that they find upsetting. Using risk information appropriately to reach defensible decisions requires that those involved must have a common understanding of risk-related topics. Even within the agency, however, there are different levels of understanding of risk concepts.