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Deliberating Over Britain's Nuclear Waste

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In 2003 the UK government established an independent oversight committee, known as the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), to advise it on the management of the nation's growing stockpile of nuclear waste. CoRWM's remit was, from a modern risk management perspective, enlightened, but two thirds of the way through its allotted time the Committee is notable for the degree of criticism it has attracted from all manner of agencies. The root causes can, in part, be traced to a conscious failure to adopt a science strategy as a part of the process, except belatedly in response to external pressure, and a failure to make the best use of relevant expertise in other crucial areas, including the social sciences. It is arguable that this has been driven by a relativist tendency on the Committee, which essentially sees science and intellect as discredited, although other factors may have contributed. The outcome is that significant, avoidable damage has been done to its credibility and its process. This should not be taken as an inherent defect of analytic-deliberative processes per se , but rather as a confirmation that such processes require special expertise and awareness for their successful implementation.

Keywords: Consultation; United Kingdom; deliberation; management; nuclear waste; relativism; science

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Middlesex University, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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