Keywords: ageing nuclear plants, Chernobyl, decision analysis, game theory, strategic decision making, critical infrastructures, crisis behaviour, nuclear accidents, nuclear safety, nuclear reliability, nuclear energy
Strategic aspects of aging nuclear infrastructure: game theory and the Chernobyl event
Game theory can provide an analytical framework for investigation of the strategic conflicts surrounding critical infrastructure. Immediately after the 1986 Chernobyl event, for example, plant management, political appointees and world media struggled over the timing and accuracy of information release. The aging of nuclear power plants and the increasing difficulties faced by management and regulatory agencies in assuring high plant reliability virtually guarantee the recurrence of such contests. Standard operating procedures and conservative plant design were once considered sufficient to guarantee plant safety, but after the 1979 Three Mile Island event management practice was also recognised as crucial. We contend that crisis behaviour can be best understood in the context of the strategic interaction among regulatory agencies, plant management and the media. Strategic issues lead naturally to game-theoretic models, which focus on the interaction of action choices and information. The Chernobyl event provides an illustrative case study to show that game analysis can provide insights into decision-makers' best responses to nuclear accidents.