Emergency management at the boundary between expertise and decision: which role for CBRN-E atmospheric dispersion and impact assessment modeling?
[en] Environmental and health impact assessment of accidental or intentional releases of potentially hazardous materials in the atmosphere is increasingly supported by the development of modeling tools. Their potential to assess the spatial and temporal extent and severity of toxic plumes contributes to their growing development as CBRN-E emergency support tools. However, the Fukushima nuclear accident underlined that their support is not yet optimal regarding civil security organizations in charge of population protection. This research therefore tends to clarify the role of these modelling tools in emergency management. For this purpose, interviews and observations of crisis exercises have been conducted. This study suggests that nowadays, CBRN-E emergency management takes place in a sense making co-constructing process between CBRN-E experts and emergency managers contributing to the achievement of consensus in the decision making process. This study also highlights the key role played by the crisis center, regarding its proper organizational structure as a sharing place between actors with complementary expertise and experience, in the perception and response to changing circumstances. Thus, this study suggests that by providing situation assessment results, modeling tools meet the current practices both in terms of emergency support tools used for civilian protection organization and in respect of each actors' contributions. In this perspective, these modelling tools are likely to end up being part of the development of crisis management support tools for building a collective representation of the CBRN-E situation between expertise and decision. (author)