Essay on Probabilistic Risk Assessment paper examples - Essay Prowess

Essay on Probabilistic Risk Assessment paper examples

Essay on Probabilistic Risk Assessment paper examples



Proper management of projects, company ventures, and even business activities is characterized by a well-developed risk mitigation plan. That means that risk management is a complementary and elementary component of any venture that is expected to prevail successfully amidst the unexpected occurrences that are likely to emerge. Different businesses, projects or ventures conduct varied activities. Similarly, the risks associated with these activities differ too. The difference may be regarding how the risks occur, the magnitude of the risks and the extent of damage or consequences of the risks. Thus, a risk mitigation plan differs from project to project. One amongst the riskiest and sensitive ventures that ought not to operate without a well-developed risk mitigation plan is that of the nuclear power plant. Usually, any operations associated with highly reactive elements such as the uranium are likely to cause immense damage to those involved in the production activities, the society, and the environment. That cannot be compared to the projects that deal with less risky operations such as the production of clothing amongst other similar items. The research, therefore, attempts to exemplify the chain of issues associated with risk management associated with a nuclear power plant.

Notably, it is indisputable that the most severe health conditions that have been witnessed in the history of war are associated with the use of nuclear weapons. That is a vivid indication that nuclear power plants deal with very sensitive elements that require stringent risk mitigation approaches to ensure that there are no loose ends as far as monitoring and managing the risks are concerned (Wreathall & Nemeth, 2004). The paper will incorporate a precise overview of the concept of risk to foster understanding of the avenues in which it occurs.

Definition of Risk and Acceptable Risk


The term “risk” bears an array of meanings. These different definitions are determined by the context in which the term is used. From a general perception, risk refers to the potential of encountering loss, damage, liability or any other form of negative experience, usually caused by an external, as well as, vulnerable internal occurrences. For instance, in the context of a nuclear plant, incidences of unexpected leakages of the sensitive and hazardous uranium elements, as well as, the waste material is a risk to the environment, the personnel operating the plants and even the society. The concept of risk emerges in this context since there is damage or loss that occurs and could be caused by internal mismanagement or external interruptions like in the case of terrorism.          

Acceptable Risk

There are several ways through which one can respond to risks after they occur. An investor may choose to avoid or accept a risk. In a case where risk cannot be avoided, then the investors accept the risk (Keller & Modarres, 2005). Usually, the acceptable risk, therefore, designates the level of risk in which the loss or injury that is experienced is tolerable considering other factors such as the political, economic and even social factors. For instance, in the context of nuclear power plants, there are some risks such as the accidental discharge of the waste, the occurrence of natural events such as flood and earthquakes are acceptable since they cannot be avoided. Thus, it becomes essential to apply probabilistic approaches to addressing them.

Explanation of the Probabilistic Risk (Safety) Assessment (RPA) Approach

As challenges associated with technological developments emerge, the same case applies to the risks that emerge. That calls for the evolution of new approaches to analyzing and address the risks as they arise. The Probabilistic Risk Assessment approach (PRA) is newly emergent tool for analysis. It exemplifies a systematic, as well as, a comprehensive method geared to evaluate the risks affiliated with most of the complex engineering technological ventures (Jensen, 2002). The approach embraces a gradual approach to ensuring that the risks are carefully evaluated. Hence, the central concept of the approach is to navigate from design, the construction, the operation and the exit from service (Wreathall & Nemeth, 2004). Thus, all aspects are assessed to ensure that there are minimal chances of discrepancies to emerge. A perfect example of a complex technological venture that utilizes this tool is the nuclear power plant.

Techniques Used In the Probabilistic Risk (Safety) Assessment Approach

The PRA approach is a vast approach. That means that it can accommodate a series of techniques in a bid to ensure that the mandate of evaluating and managing the risks is conducted successfully. There are three common techniques that the PRA approach applies to conduct its evaluation regarding the potential risks that may occur in the entire system, taking the nuclear power plant as a perfect example (Jensen, 2002). The first technique is that of event trees. It facilitates the modeling of the power plant’s response especially in the context of all the events taking place in the combined systems. Hence, all the events are assessed to ascertain that the entire system is evaluated. The second one is the fault tree technique. It is extremely precise since it model’s the nuclear plant system from a detailed approach. Like the first technique, the fault tree technique also focuses on the combined system. However, in this case, it assesses, evaluates and analyzes the combined failures that are likely to affect or even disable the wholesome power system. That means that the loss incurred if the appropriate measures are not taken to monitor the system (Jensen, 2002).

From a professional point of understanding, the failure tree technique embraces some sophisticated engineering calculations that assist in determining the entire plant system operates. The third technique is the human reliability analysis. The technique evaluates the potential errors perpetrated by human beings, and that could result in an outcome that is unfortunate. The technique oversees human-related misconducts that could have occurred during the process of undertaking the procedures, conducting training and other eventualities affiliated with the plant’s system.

An Outline of A PRA Model

There are different categories of models that are affiliated with the Probabilistic Risk Analysis. In this context, one of the most useful models associated with the PRA approach is the Seismic Probabilistic Risk Assessment Model. Most importantly, it focuses on evaluating and addressing the eventualities oscillating around an acceptable risk. The model focuses on evaluating the structures, systems, as well as, the components of the nuclear plants or related engineering technologies. Evaluating structures, the entire systems, and the components constituting the plant in an effective manner requires that the approach takes into consideration a series of elements.

First, the model focuses on the hazard analysis. Usually, there is an array of probable hazards that are expected to affect the normal operation of the system. Therefore, evaluating these possible hazards makes the approach worthwhile since it improves the efficiency of the approach in mitigating risks. The second element of focus is that of the plant system and the response structure analysis. The other crucial element of the model is that of plant and sequence scrutiny. That deals with the evaluation of the plants functionality and the possible discrepancies that may emerge in the process of operating the plant. Finally, the model constitutes the element that focuses on evaluating the frequency of failures affiliated with the structures, as well as, the equipment constituting the power plant.

The model, therefore, attempts to assess and evaluate all the avenues that could result in the risk and hence adverse consequences. According to the model, there is a probability that failure of one section of the entire system is likely to result in the failure of the entire system. For instance, if any structure or part of the plant is not stable enough to withstand the challenges associated with earthquakes, then, the power plant is likely to experience total failure. The nuclear power plants are very sensitive.

Core Damage Frequency and Large Early Release Frequency

Core Damage Frequency

It is a concept that exemplifies the feasibility of there to occur an event that could end up affecting the core of the nuclear reactor. The core is the most important part of the plant. Therefore, the concept performs the role of assessing the probability of the risk to occur. It assists in the management of the risks that are affiliated with the core accidents.  

Large Early Release Frequency                

LERF is used to depict the frequency in which accidents that can lead to substantial emission from the containment take place before the stipulated time for withdrawal. For instance, in the case of nuclear plants, there are cases where the waste of the uranium material evacuates before the stipulated time. Hence, this concept plays the role of assessing the possibility of early evacuation. Hence, the risk mitigation team can institute a relevant measure to minimize the chances of the risk from taking place. The consequences are dire.                            


Jensen, U. (2002). Probabilistic risk analysis: foundations and methods. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 97(459), 925-925.

Wreathall, J., & Nemeth, C. (2004). Assessing risk: the role of probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) in patient safety improvement. Quality and Safety in Health Care, 13(3), 206-212.

Keller, W., & Modarres, M. (2005). A historical overview of probabilistic risk assessment development and its use in the nuclear power industry: a tribute to the late Professor Norman Carl Rasmussen. Reliability Engineering & System Safety, 89(3), 271-285.

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