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Local Acceptance of a High-Level Nuclear Waste Repository

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The siting of nuclear waste facilities has been very difficult in all countries. Recent experience in Sweden indicates, however, that it may be possible, under certain circumstances, to gain local support for the siting of a high-level nuclear waste (HLNW) repository. The article reports on a study of attitudes and risk perceptions of people living in four municipalities in Sweden where HLNW siting was being intensely discussed at the political level, in media, and among the public. Data showed a relatively high level of consensus on acceptability of at least further investigation of the issue; in two cases local councils have since voted in favor of a go-ahead, and in one case only a very small majority defeated the issue. Models of policy attitudes showed that these were related to attitude to nuclear power, attributes of the perceived HLNW risk, and trust. Factors responsible for acceptance are discussed at several levels. One is the attitude to nuclear power, which is becoming more positive, probably because no viable alternatives are in sight. Other factors have to do with the extensive information programs conducted in these municipalities, and with the logical nature of the conclusion that they would be good candidates for hosting the national HLNW repository.
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Keywords: Risk perception; nuclear waste; risk acceptance

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-06-01

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