quick scan
WI-WE Progress
Progress: 90.00%   WWI-WE Version: 2
0 mandatory questions pending
26 questions total
24 questions answered
24 questions completed
2 questions pending
Popular WI-WE Tags

Mapping Wild Cards

Inspired by: scientists/researchers » Severe accident of a nuclear power plant

version: 2 / updated: 2011-01-21
id: #1473 / version id: #778
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Ondrej Valenta
List of all contributors by versions (mouse over)
Last changed by: Martin Fatun
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

Scientists/researchers (incl. reports, plans and statements)

The source of the Wild Card is

Ivo Váša, Nuclear Research Institute Řež, Czech Republic


(max. 9 words)

Severe accident of a nuclear power plant


(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Wild Card (approx. 150 words)
Although the risk of a severe accident of a nuclear power plant is extremely low, it is still not a zero-risk. In the past, at least two major accidents of nuclear power plants occurred – in Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, which had a tremendous global impact on attitude of the public towards risks linked with the nuclear energy. Severe accidents of a nuclear power plant in the future would have again a tremendous impact and in turn would have negative impact also on future development of the whole sector.


accident, nuclear power plant, environmental disaster, energy, security


(max. 250 characters)

Severe accident of a nuclear power plant with enormous radiological consequences on both human and natural environment


Closest timeframe for at least 50% likelihood
Please use one of the following options:

Features of life if the wild card manifests

Feature 1: business models and industrial environment
Closing of all nuclear power plants resulting in global energy shortage and consequent problems with satisfaction of energy demands
Feature 2: education and research environment
More money put for non-nuclear research
Feature 3: consumers, markets and lifestyles
increase of anti-nuclear movements in societies leading to a potential abandonment of nuclear power
Feature 5: politics and global affairs
Increasing dependence of European countries on import of energy
Feature 6: health and quality of life
Contamination of a large area, polution of soil, air and water
Feature 7: security and defence
Increase of fossil fuel consumption causing climate change as well as energy crisis and geopolitical conflicts

Type of event

Unplanned consequence of events/trends/situations (e.g. financial crisis, accidental breakthrough)

Type of emergence

please select (if any) describe related trend or situation
A contemporary equivalent of past Wild Cards
(e.g. earthquake, tsunami or, similar to the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the USA breaks up into independent countries sometime between 2025-2050, for example)

Historical parallels

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster

Type of systems affected





please specify:
please select
Level 1: important for a particular country especially the affected countries...
Level 2: important for a particular world region ...and also for regions
Level 3: important for the European Union importancy for EU through consequent actions and developments

Early indicators

(including weak signals)

Not enough engineers/qualified staff especially in third world countries Nuclear power plants built in third world countries Not strict international control – safety regulation

Latent phase

Obstacles for early indentification

information/communicational filters (media/editorial interests, language, reasoning)
institutional filters (rules, laws, regulations)
other, please specify:   increased security and organizational rules

Manifestation phase

Type of manifestation

In a probably enclosed way (e.g. geographically, sectorally)

Aftermath phase

Important implications
Transformation of a system (e.g. new applications, change in stakeholders relations/influence)


After the severe accident, all nuclear power plants would be subjects of suspicion and sources of potential threat. In combination with a rise of anti-nuclear movements in the society and politics, nuclear research and nuclear sector as such can be consequently abandoned. This would imply a significant change in energy sector as abandoned nuclear sources of energy would need to be substituted by alternative sources. Temporarily, this could lead to increased dependence of especially European states on import of energy sources.

Key drivers or triggers

Provide up to 2 possible drivers or triggers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
please describe
Driver / Trigger 1
please describe
Driver / Trigger 2
Technological/Scientific technological advancements leading to more flexible production and operation of nuclear power plants
Economic boom of nuclear power plants in third world countries increasing demand for energy in developing countries
Political increased international regulation of nuclear power

Potential stakeholders' actions

it occurs
it occurs
Policy actors (at the international, European and national levels) assure the unified safety and security standards for operation of nuclear power plants and secure their implementation provide transparent and non-biased information about nuclear power provide transparent and non-biased information about nuclear power Verify emergency procedures and compliance of countries to the international regulations continue providing transparent and fast information about the current situation continue providing transparent and fast information about the current situation
Business actors (incl. SMEs) Implementation of high policy standards in utilization of new nuclear energy Active participation in the situation after the accident sponsoring, ...) Renewal of credibility of the nuclear sector
Academic/Research sector Research on new generation of reactors (with inherent safety) Research on new/alternative sources of energy Research on risks involved Research on follow-up costs (nuclear waste) Research on causes and consequences of current situation Development of new security systems Development of new health-related practices
Media Enabling the shift of transparent information to the wide public

Relevance for Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Coexistence and conflicts
Crime and terrorism
Ethics and abuse of S&T
Governance and trust in democracy
Energy security/dynamics
Economic prosperity/dynamics
Globalization vs. localization
Innovation dynamics
Sustainability and climate change
Water security/vulnerability

Relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology
ICT - Information & communication technologies
Environment (including Climate Change)
Nuclear research
Science in society

Pan-European strategies potentially helping to deal with the wild card

please justify:
particularly relevant
Improving researchers mobility and career development by, for example, realising a single labour market for researchers.
Developing and funding world-class research infrastructures
Facilitating and promoting knowledge sharing and transfer
Increasing the efficiency and impact of public research through Joint Programming (i.e. combining national and pan-European research efforts) or the optimisation of research programmes and priorities, for example.

 Features of a research-friendly ecology contributing to deal with the wild card

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here

please justify:
particularly relevant
Overcoming sub-criticality and systemic failures
To be subcritical means that the effort in a particular field or subfield lacks resources, equipment or a sufficient number of researchers to achieve a desired goal
Strengthening the actors in the research-friendly ecology
(i.e. Research funding organisations, universities, businesses, Research and Technology Organisations, Researchers and Citizens)
Creating a closer link between researchers & policy-makers
(e.g. supporting both thematic and cross-cutting policies, highlighting the strategic purpose of the European Research Area, etc.