RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016

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188 Nuclear Geographies (1): Splitting the Atom
Affiliation Population Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Rebecca Alexis-Martin (University of Southampton, UK)
Nigel Heaps (British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, UK)
Chair(s) Rebecca Alexis-Martin (University of Southampton, UK)
Timetable Thursday 01 September 2016, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Session abstract The landscape of nuclear geography is currently undergoing dramatic international changes, and the role of the geographer has grown in significance as human geography and ionizing radiation collide. For example, geographers and social scientists have a critical role to play in understanding the human consequences and impacts of the UK's impending nuclear energy renaissance. The spatial, social and cultural implications of nuclear disarmament have not been subject to such scrutiny since the end of the Cold War. The proliferation nuclear weapons is ongoing, and the consequences of North Korea’s experimentation with H-bomb technology are currently geographically unexplored. Perceptions of risk are evolving, and estimation methods for spatiotemporal constraints and impacts to populations are becoming more sophisticated. Nuclear geography is an incredibly diverse field of research, which includes polarizing topics such as radiation protection, gender and nuclear disarmament, and demographic work on both nuclear test veterans and radiation emergency survivors. Population studies are at the heart of this work, and there is an underlying thread of commonality for the diverse array of academics who explore these contentious issues. Currently, there are limited opportunities for geographers, social scientists and population scientists to unite, share their work, and engage in open discussion. This session will enable an essential critical examination of relevant themes within nuclear geography, including population studies, radiation protection, emergency management, energy generation, defence, gender, society and culture.
Linked Sessions Nuclear Geographies (2): Populations, Societies and Communities
Nuclear Geographies (3): Babushkas of Chernobyl Film Screening and Discussion
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Is it time to reassess the health risks from radiation in the environment?
Geraldine Thomas (Imperial College London, UK)
Introduction by discussant Professor Geraldine Thomas, an expert in the molecular pathology of thyroid and breast cancer, and coordinator of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank (www.chernobyltissuebank.com). Her research group has two main areas of interest, namely tissue banking and biospecimen science, and the molecular pathology of thyroid and breast cancer, in particular radiation associated thyroid cancer. She will be speaking on the perceived and actual risks arising from environmental radiation.
Updating consideration of long-term climate change within the context of post-closure performance assessments for disposal of radioactive wastes
Natalie Lord (University of Bristol, UK)
Dan Lunt (University of Bristol, UK)
Andy Ridgewell (University of California, USA)
Mike Thorne (Mike Thorne and Associates Limited)
Radioactive wastes originate from a range of sources including the nuclear energy, defence and medical industries, and their long-term management poses a significant challenge for many countries. This is due to the harmful impacts these materials can have on living organisms and the environment, meaning they must be stored and then disposed so as to isolate them from the environment until they are no longer significantly hazardous. However, the long timescales involved in the decay of radioactive wastes to safe levels mean that geological disposal facilities must continue to function effectively for up to 100,000 years (low- and intermediate-level waste) and up to 1 million years (high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel). It is therefore essential to consider long-term climate evolution in post-closure performance assessments in order to evaluate a geological disposal system's response and robustness to a variety of potential climate changes, driven by both natural (e.g. orbital variations) and anthropogenic (e.g. fossil fuel emissions) forcings. This is to ensure that the planned repository will keep the waste contained for as long as is necessary, and prevent or minimize the exposure of future populations, non-human biota and the environment to hazardous radionuclides. Here, we present a conceptual framework for considering long-term climate change in post-closure radiological assessments of radioactive waste repositories. Our methodology aims to model the possible long-term future evolution of climate using an emulator – a fast statistical model based on the output of a more complex General Circulation Model. The projected changes in climate take into account the impacts of a range of forcings including anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and future orbital variations. The resulting climate data can then be used for site-specific assessments, such as to investigate the future evolution of site characteristics, in terms of landscape development or changes to the hydrological cycle, and their implications for dose assessment modelling.
RADPOP: A novel agent-based modelling framework for radiation protection
Rebecca Alexis-Martin (University of Southampton, UK)
David Martin (University of Southampton, UK)
Samantha Cockings (University of Southampton, UK)
Understanding the whereabouts of vulnerable population subgroups during emergencies can improve the targeting and implementation of countermeasures, including evacuation and sheltering. Previous work within the RADPOP project has focused upon understanding how the spatiotemporal location of different population subgroups affects vulnerability to radiation exposure. However, the population dynamic has the capacity to dramatically change during times of emergency, as different population subgroups have different actions and make different choices. Here, we use spatiotemporal population density modelling, atmospheric dispersal modelling, and agent-based modelling to investigate the routes by which a population will seek shelter during a radiation emergency, and the impact that this has upon radiation exposure. This study is investigates a hypothetical radiation accident scenario in Exeter, UK, and looks at how both the difference in population structure at different times of day, and changes in dynamic due to countermeasures, affect exposure.
My Experiences of Maralinga
Jeff Liddiatt (British Nuclear Test Veterans Association, UK)
It was 1959 when I arrived in Australia aged 19 for what seemed like a great adventure. I was stationed at RAAF Edinburgh Field just north of Adelaide. Part of the stations MT section was at Maralinga Atomic Range, my detachment to Maralinga came soon after I arrived. While stationed at Maralinga, we just went about a normal duties with the addition of servicing vehicles and stationary units in the forward area. This did not mean much at the time, as all major tests had been transferred to Christmas Island. Minor trials were carried out during my time there. It was only when the Royal Commission on the Atomic Tests which were carried out in Australia. Did the full significance of the term Minor Trials came to light. These are my experiences.