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Chemical and Radiation Recovery Decision Support Tool - CB0474

The HPA has now developed chemical and radiation recovery handbooks, which are intended for use by recovery coordination groups (RCGs) and other stakeholders such as national and local authorities, central government departments and agencies, environmental and health protection experts, emergency services, industry and others who may be affected by a chemical or radiation incident. The recovery handbooks are unique in that they are practical, technical guidance documents and freely available to download, with the purpose of assisting users identify and develop recovery strategies to reduce or eliminate exposure and subsequent public health risks from environmental contamination following a chemical or radiation incident.

The HPA's chemical and radiation recovery handbooks are also looked upon as state of the art by colleagues in Europe, the US and Canada. However, feedback from the customer steering group (Defra, FSA, HO, SG, GDS, CIEH, NIEA, SG) and stakeholders has been that the current formats of the handbooks (linked PDF documents) can be quite difficult to interpret and interrogate by non experts, especially if users are unfamiliar with format and structure. This is relevant during a response, where time is limited and situations pressured. In particular, it is difficult for the user to keep track of where they are in the decision process; the handbooks have a number of steps involved in developing a recovery strategy. Hence, the process of identifying and evaluating a recovery strategy could be made more user friendly by developing an online recovery decision support tool, to accompany the recovery handbooks. The decision support tool would not replace current advice and guidance (i.e. recovery handbooks), but would help direct the user through the decision making process and would capture decisions made by the recovery co ordination group (or equivalent) regarding their assessment of the suitability and practical application of remediation techniques, on a site and incident specific basis. The IT software (and platform) chosen to run the decision support tool will be suitable for use on computers or other web enabled devices.

The research added value for Defra to support the development of a chemical and radiation recovery decision support tool is to:
• Facilitate communication between emergency services and local authorities.
• Make the information contained within the recovery handbooks more accessible to non technical users, enabling the user to keep track of where they are in the decision process by developing the tool to be accessible from any web enabled device.
• Enable better reporting (and recording) of how decisions are made during the development of a recovery strategy (e.g. why are some techniques/ recovery options eliminated).
Whilst each chemical and radiation incident will be unique and require a site-specific analysis, the decision making processes
for identifying and developing recovery strategies are quite similar. Hence, the chemical and radiation recovery decision
support tool will:
„h Assist the user in navigating through the decision-frameworks within the recovery handbooks
„h Assist the user in identifying suitable recovery options
„h Provide a consistent methodology to compare remediation techniques by linking to the evidence base that will also be
developed in parallel to the tool, taking into account lessons identified from recovery strategies applied after chemical
and radiation incidents.
„h Provide a framework that clearly documents all parameters, assumptions and the data used to reach the decision.
„h Facilitate reproducible and transparent decision making with an auditable decision trail.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2013

To: 2015

Cost: £167,110
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Health Protection Agency (HPA)
Decision Support              
Hazardous substances