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Message from the Head

Statement of
Dr. George Apostolakis
Head,Nuclear Risk Research Center


I am honored and humbled to have been selected as Head of the Nuclear Risk Research Center (NRRC). I fully appreciate the challenges that I and my colleagues will face as we strive to create a research center that will be recognized internationally as a center of excellence that will support the Japanese nuclear industry in continually assessing and managing the risks from nuclear facilities.


The safety of nuclear facilities, such as nuclear power plants, has been assured traditionally by postulating a small number of highly stylized Design Basis Accidents (DBAs) and requiring that the facilities be constructed and operated so that, if such a hypothetical DBA were to occur, no harm to public health and safety would result.

In contrast to the traditional approach to safety, Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) analyzes the facility as an integral system and asks three fundamental questions: What can go wrong? How likely is it? What are the consequences? The answers to these questions lead to the estimation of the likelihood and consequences of thousands of realistic accident scenarios that involve hardware failures, potential human errors, and natural hazards, such as earthquakes, floods, and others.

The PRA results are the basic input to risk management, that is, the optimization of expenditure of resources to make sure that the adverse consequences of realistic accidents become so unlikely that, as a practical matter, they are not expected to occur.

It is evident that this approach requires the development and utilization of both engineering methods and models for the performance of equipment and humans in adverse conditions. It is the NRRC’s mission to provide these tools to the nuclear operators and the nuclear industry so that their facilities will achieve exceptional levels of safety.

The NRRC will operate in an open and transparent manner. It will communicate its results and activities to all interested parties thereby striving to gain the trust of both technical stakeholders and the general public.

I have long experience in both PRA and risk management. I was a professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles, for twenty years and, later, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for fifteen years. In 2010, President Obama nominated me and the U.S. Senate confirmed my nomination to serve as a member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I believe that my technical and regulatory background will serve me well as I assume the leadership of the NRRC.

Date of Birth: 1946. 4
1969:Diploma, Electrical Engineering,
National Technical University, Athens, Greece
1970:M.S., Engineering Science,
California Institute of Technology
1973:Ph.D., Engineering Science and Applied Mathematics
California Institute of Technology
1974-1995:Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
1995-2010:Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Member (2001-02: Chairman) Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS)
2007:Elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering
2010-2014:Commissioner, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
2010-Present:Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2015:Awarded the Henry DeWolf Smyth Nuclear Statesman Award from the American Nuclear Society and the Nuclear Energy Institute


  • Editor-in-Chief, Reliability Engineering and System Safety, An international Journal, ElsevierScience Publishers, England(1986-2010)
  • Established the International Conference on Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management (PSAM) (1991)
  • Attend the Japan-US round table on probabilistic risk assessment (2014.2)
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