Managing the Risks and Consequences of a Large Polluting Accident


How can the J-value be utilised to manage the risks of a large polluting accident?

From 12:00 until 13:00

At Webinar


Hazards Forum / ICE


The J-value framework (J for Judgement) is an integrated methodology that generates objective advice on how much should be spent to avert human harm and environmental loss.  It estimates the maximum it is reasonable to spend on a safety measure or system by balancing the safety expenditure against the increase life expectancy it brings about.  At its core is the concept of the life-quality index (LQI), which is an increasing function of both life expectancy and annual utility, with risk-aversion used to convert monetary income to utility – the satisfaction that the money brings.  The maximum reasonable expenditure will have been reached when the increase in the LQI due to the greater life expectancy the safety measure confers is just matched by the decrease in life quality associated with the fall in income incurred by paying for it.

The presentations will challenge the conventional thinking of how to manage the consequences of both large nuclear accidents and large polluting accidents and will demonstrate how the J-value can aid decision-making by Governments, Regulatory Bodies and other organisations concerned with post-accident response.





Presentation by Professor Philip Thomas

Professor of Risk Management

12pm – 12:20pm



Philip Thomas researches risk management, where he has developed the Judgement- or J-value, a framework that enables objective decisions to be taken on expenditure to protect humans and the environment.  He recently led a team applying the J-value and complementary techniques to gauge how best to cope with a big nuclear accident such as Chernobyl or Fukushima.  The results of the multi-university study were reported by the national and international press.  His J-value insights on managing the current coronavirus pandemic have attracted similar coverage.  


Professor Thomas gained over 20 years' experience in the chemical and nuclear industries, first at ICI plc developing control and instrumentation systems for large chemical plants then with the UK Atomic Energy Authority, where, inter alia, he was Customer Project Manager for the green-field decommissioning of the 100MWth/33MWe Windscale AGR.  He moved into academia in 2000, taking up a chair in Engineering Development at City, University of London.  The University of Bristol appointed him Professor of Risk Management in 2015.  He has published over 130 journal and conference papers on control, instrumentation, nuclear decommissioning, risk assessment, economics and law.  His book, Simulation of Industrial Processes for Control Engineers, was published in 1999.  



Presentation by Dr Ian Waddington

Senior Software Engineer

12:20pm – 12:40pm


Dr Ian Waddington is a software engineer and physicist who leads the computing aspects of the J-value, a framework for assessing the economics of safety systems. He recently led a study applying the J-value to the remediation measures taken following the Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accidents. Published as part of the NREFS project, this study demonstrated that large-scale population relocation is uneconomic and that in situ remediation measures should be preferred following an accident.


Ian’s academic background is in astrophysics. After gaining a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, he was a postdoctoral researcher at universities in the UK and USA, studying the evolution of galaxies with the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes. After leaving full-time academia he became a software engineer, working across a range of industries covering financial technology, government services, identity matching, e-commerce search and risk analysis. He is currently senior engineer with a start-up company providing automated energy management services to businesses.


Discussion forum (Q&A) chaired by Mr Nick Shaw

Chair of Board of Trustees, Hazards Forum

12:40pm – 1pm



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