The advancement of science and technology brings us prosperous futures and gives comfort to our lives. The tools and knowledge generated by science and technology have transformed the way we approach health, agriculture, energy, development, communications, education, social interactions, and security. Many of these advances and uses offer great benefit to modern society, but some have increased risks to health, security, and sovereignty.Sometimes it brings adverse effects on human life with respect to security on account of being misused accidently or intentionally. The major areas of concern regarding adverse effects are chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) because they may induce mass casualties and have the potential for damaging long-term effects. The science and technology community should therefore make every effort to contribute to the prevention of CBRN types of disasters.
The scientific community is an important partner in preventing and responding to, as well as remediating disasters involving these agents. Science can create research environments that minimize misuse and negligence. It can also provide information about given situations that help policymakers, which is a very important interface between the science community and the policymaking community to make informed or policy-relevant decisions that are based on the appropriate and most relevant information.
The United States national security community is unique in its interactions with its science and technology community. The US government has established several programs during the past two decades to reach out to scientists to access expertise, raise awareness of security risks associated with emerging technologies and research or diagnostic facilities, and build trust and partnership with key federal agencies. Examples of these efforts include the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and the outreach activities of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Both of these efforts have sought to engage the scientific community in preventing potential national security risks from within their scientific environments.
The Korean government provides 81 types of safety information and 14 agencies at different levels are operating 26 websites. To promote science and technology regarding disaster and safety management, the Minister of Security and Public Administration must put together the disaster and safety management technology development plans of related central administrative agencies every 5 years, have them reviewed by the coordinating committee and the national science and technology council, establish comprehensive disaster and safety management technology development plans, and prepare and enforce policies for promoting science and technology in disaster and safety management. Korea is ranked No. 7 in the world in terms of R&D investments, but the disaster and safety sector accounts for only 1.26 percent of the government’s R&D budget. As disasters do not occur continuously or regularly, and happen randomly at any time in various sizes and shapes, it is impossible to accurately predict the effects of investments in their prevention or responses thereto, but the effects of safety inspection technologies, fine detection technologies, and technologies for recovering from polluted soil, air, and water cannot be anticipated without related technologies and R&D. Science, technology, and R&D are playing a pivotal role in maintaining the sound development of Korea, which transformed itself from an agricultural country into an industrial country in half a century.
The case of the Fukushima disaster is introduced as an example of an S&T role in responding to CBRN accidents. The S&T community can support the community by providing its expertise towards the overall response to a wide-area incident. The supporting actions start with customer identification and their needs, development of target products, and delivery of the developed products to the customers. The S&T community needs to develop strong lines of communication within the S&T community itself regarding effective customer support and outreach activities. In addition, the S&T community should continue to promote its scientific integrity for individual scientists and engineers. This integrity promotion effort will ensure the transparent support to customers with the highest quality scientific and ethical standards.
This report is the outcome of the workshop held by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies of the Republic of Korea and the American Association for the Advancement of Science Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy on Science and Technology to Prevent and Respond to CBRN Disasters: US and South Korean Perspectives. Through this report, the diverse roles and solutions that science and technology can provide to prevent and mitigate disasters involving chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials is introduced. The outcome of this work will be increased awareness of the integral role that the science and technology community plays in addressing local, national, and transnational CBRN incidents; the importance of building on the multi-disciplinary expertise of the scientific community; and the strength of integrating the social and natural sciences together to enhance efforts and policy discussions related to prevention and response to natural or man-made disasters involving CBRN materials.