Modeling Potential Reactor Accident Consequences, State-of-the-Art Reactor Consequence Analyses: Using decades of research and experience to model accident progression, mitigation, emergency response, and health effects (NUREG/BR-0359, Revision 3)

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Publication Information

Date Published: October 2020

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
Washington, DC 20555-0001


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research recommends and conducts research necessary for licensing and other regulatory functions of the NRC. Our focus is on nuclear safety and security of nuclear reactors, other nuclear facilities, and radioactive materials. We partner within the NRC, and with Federal agencies, industry research organizations, and international counterparts and organizations to conduct these activities.

We conducted the State-of-the-Art Reactor Consequence Analyses (SOARCA) project to estimate the potential consequences from unlikely accidents involving a commercial nuclear power plant that could release significant quantities of radioactive material into the environment. This project first modeled a set of accident scenarios for two nuclear power plants, Peach Bottom and Surry, which represent two of the most common types of plants operating in the United States. We recently completed an additional study of the Sequoyah nuclear power plant, which is representative of another common plant type in the U.S., as well as an uncertainty analysis for the three plants. SOARCA considers plant design and operational changes not reflected in earlier assessments. The project also considers NRC's development of rigorous oversight processes and use of operating experience along with improvements in operator training and emergency preparedness. In addition, we've improved the analytical tools that NRC used to perform SOARCA based on decades of national and international research.

One of SOARCA's objectives is to improve communications about hypothetical accident scenarios with stakeholders. Stakeholders include members of the public along with Federal, State, and local authorities, academia, citizen groups, and the companies that operate nuclear power plants. We have documented the SOARCA results in a series of reports that include NUREG-1935, "State-of-the-Art Reactor Consequence Analyses Main Report," and NUREG/CR-7110, Volume 1, "Peach Bottom Integrated Analyses," and Volume 2, "Surry Integrated Analyses," as well as NUREG/CR-7245, "Sequoyah Integrated Deterministic and Uncertainty Analyses" and reports on uncertainty analyses. Because the NUREG reports rely on highly technical explanations, we developed this brochure as a plain-language summary of SOARCA's methods, results, and conclusions. We invite you to read this brochure about how we used state-of-the-art methods to model these unlikely nuclear power plant accidents to understand their potential impacts on public health and safety.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, November 13, 2020