Decision-making and Radioactive Waste Disposal
This book critically examines the phenomenon of low level radioactive waste (LLRW) disposal facility siting across four international democracies. The issue is of growing importance since World War II the level of this waste has increased from the hundreds to the billions. The International Atomic Energy Agency estimates that nuclear power generation facilities alone produce about 200,000 cubic meters of low and intermediate-level waste each year worldwide; waste that needs to be isolated from the public for extended periods of time. Siting LLRW disposal facilities in democracies is beset by two main problems: almost universally negative community response to siting proposals, and, as a result, government’s reactive policies. There has been a tendency for democratic countries to adopt a default position of deferring siting decisions for as long as possible due to a fear of public opposition, which only increases the risks associated with radiation.
The authors explore these issues utilizing a linear narrative case study approach that critically examines key stakeholder interactions in order to explain how siting decisions are made. The book incorporates a stakeholder theory approach to allow for a better understanding of the key players’ roles and how such decisions are made as well as an ‘environmental justice’ perspective to better understand how some siting decisions negatively impact lower socio-economic classes and indigenous peoples within democratic societies. The four featured countries – the United States, Australia, Spain and South Korea – represent a broad range of current siting issues. Though the different countries are geographically and culturally diverse, they are all democracies with vibrant civil societies, which mean that siting decisions require negotiation between the siting authority and the host community via representative stakeholders. Most studies of nuclear waste focus on siting at a single location or in a single country, whereas this book seeks to establish an understanding of the political, economic, environmental, legal and social dimensions of siting across multiple countries. Furthermore, the book targets specifically low-level radioactive waste, which has traditionally received far less study by the academic community than high-level waste and spent nuclear fuel. This valuable resource fills a gap in the literature with international comparative research and provides recommendations for future low-level radioactive waste disposal facility siting efforts.
The book should be of interest to students and scholars of environmental law, justice, management and politics, as well as energy and security policy.