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How much do people who live near major nuclear facilities worry about those facilities? Analysis of national and site-specific data

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Large nuclear waste management, laboratory and electric power generating complexes are a daunting challenge for state, regional and local planners. A survey of 2101 residents who lived near 11 nuclear power plants and US Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear waste management sites and laboratories was conducted to determine how much nearby residents worried about accidents and chronic emissions at the nuclear sites, how much they trusted the sites' responsible parties, and actions that they wanted responsible parties to take to reduce public concern. Six hundred other people who lived elsewhere in the US were a comparison group. Nuclear site-related issues were a greater concern among the 2101 who lived near the sites than the comparison group. Yet many were more concerned about global warming, traffic congestion, and loss of open space than nuclear technologies. Monitoring the environment and people were the actions deemed most likely to reduce public concern. The results pose a challenge to owner-operators of nuclear facilities, government entities and especially to locally based environmental planners and managers to establish partnerships with each other and diverse communities that will allow them to manage some of these risks for decades and in some cases into perpetuity.
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Keywords: global warming; nuclear power and waste; risk perception; traffic congestion and open space; worry

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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