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Integrating Natural and Social Sciences to Inspire Public Confidence in Radioactive Waste Policy Case Study: Committee on Radioactive Waste Management

[+] Author Affiliations
Sam Usher

AMEC Nuclear, Knutsford, UK

Paper No. ICEM2007-7240, pp. 225-237; 13 pages
doi:10.1115/ICEM2007-7240
From:
  • The 11th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management
  • 11th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Parts A and B
  • Bruges, Belgium, September 2–6, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4339-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3818-8
  • Copyright © 2007 by ASME

abstract

Implementing effective long-term radioactive waste management policy is challenging, and both UK and international experience is littered with policy and programme failures. Policy must not only be underpinned by sound science and technical rationale, it must also inspire the confidence of the public and other stakeholders. However, in today’s modern society, communities will not simply accept the word of scientists for setting policy based purely on technical grounds. This is particularly so in areas where there are significant social and ethical issues, such as radioactive waste disposal. To develop and implement effective policy, governments, waste owners and implementing bodies must develop processes which effectively integrate both complex technical and scientific issues, with equally challenging social and ethical concerns. These integrating processes must marry often intricate technical issues with broad public and stakeholder engagement programmes, in programmes which can expect the highest levels of public scrutiny, and must invariably be delivered within challenging time and budget constraints. This paper considers a model for how such integrating processes can be delivered. The paper reviews, as a case study, how such challenges were overcome by the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), which, in July 2006, made recommendations to the UK government for the establishment of a long-term radioactive waste policy. Its recommendations were underpinned by sound science, but also engendered public confidence through undertaking the largest and most significant deliberative public and stakeholder engagement programme on a complex policy issue in the UK. Effective decision-making was enabled through the integration of both proven and bespoke methodologies, including Multi-criteria Decision Analysis and Holistic assessments, coupled with an overarching deliberative approach. How this was managed and delivered to programme demonstrates how important effective integration of different issues, interests and world views can be achieved, and the paper looks forward to how the continued integration of both natural and social sciences is essential if public confidence is to be maintained through implementation stages. This paper will be particularly relevant to governments, waste owners and implementing bodies who are responsible for developing and implementing policy.

Copyright © 2007 by ASME

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