Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Federal nuclear waste panel overlooks public mistrust, experts say

Date:
August 13, 2010
Source:
Lehigh University
Summary:
According to 16 social science researchers from across the country, a renewed federal effort to fix the nation's stalled nuclear waste program is focusing so much on technological issues that it fails to address the public mistrust hampering storage and disposal efforts.

According to 16 social science researchers from across the country, a renewed federal effort to fix the nation's stalled nuclear waste program is focusing so much on technological issues that it fails to address the public mistrust hampering storage and disposal efforts.

Related Articles


Writing in the latest issue of the journal Science, experts including Sharon M. Friedman of Lehigh University say that President Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future is not focusing enough on the social and political acceptability of possible solutions. "While scientific and technical analyses are essential, they will not and arguably should not carry the day unless they address, substantively and procedurally, the issues that concern the public," the experts write.

Composed of science and technology experts and several former politicians, the presidential commission "appears to be overlooking what social scientists have learned over 20 years about public perception of, and response to, the risks of nuclear wastes," according to Friedman, professor of journalism and communication and director of the Science and Environmental Writing Program at Lehigh.

Friedman has been studying risk communication about nuclear issues since 1979 when she was a consultant to the President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island. She has also served as a member of several National Academies' committees that have studied nuclear waste and radiation health effects issues.

"The issues around nuclear waste storage need to be evaluated in a transparent and cooperative environment between technical experts and the public," says Friedman. "Communicating with people about risks from radioactive waste is extremely difficult. You can't see or smell radiation, you don't know what it will do to you, and dangers from various exposure levels are hard to explain. All of this instills fear in people and works against public acceptability of proposed solutions for disposing of nuclear waste.

"A number of social science studies have already addressed how nuclear waste issues can impact communities and shape policy around these issues. This knowledge should not be wasted but used instead to help find solutions," Friedman says.

The Science paper comes while a "nuclear renaissance" has more than 50 reactors under construction in the world and another 100-plus planned over the next decade. Meanwhile, some 60,000 tons of high-level waste has accumulated in the United States without a successful waste-disposal program.

The paper goes on to say, "Addressing the relevant social issues does not guarantee success, but ignoring them increases the chances of repeating past failures, like Yucca Mountain." Highly controversial, Yucca Mountain was designated as the nation's main nuclear waste repository by Congress in 1982, but President Obama withdrew its funding and asked that its licensing application be withdrawn.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lehigh University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eugene A. Rosa, Seth P. Tuler, Baruch Fischhoff, Thomas Webler, Sharon M. Friedman, Richard E. Sclove, Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Mary R. English, Roger E. Kasperson, Robert L. Goble, Thomas M. Leschine, William Freudenburg, Caron Chess, Charles Perrow, Kai Erikson, and James F. Short. Nuclear Waste: Knowledge Waste? Science, 2010; 329 (5993): 762-763 DOI: 10.1126/science.1193205

Cite This Page:

Lehigh University. "Federal nuclear waste panel overlooks public mistrust, experts say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100812161934.htm>.
Lehigh University. (2010, August 13). Federal nuclear waste panel overlooks public mistrust, experts say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100812161934.htm
Lehigh University. "Federal nuclear waste panel overlooks public mistrust, experts say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100812161934.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins