Cultivating Public Involvement: Going Beyond the Nuclear Waste Policy Act

by J. Bennett Easterling, U.S. Dep of Energy, Washington, United States,
Mary E. Gleason, U.S. Dep of Energy, Washington, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: High Level Radioactive Waste Management 1993


Congress, recognizing that States, Indian tribes, and local governments have a unique and vested interest in the siting of high-level radioactive waste facilities, gave these parties special rights to participate in this country's high-level radioactive waste management program through the Nuclear Waste Policy Act as amended. However, as the program progresses, it has become increasingly clear that, in addition to these affected parties, may other groups and individuals are interested in what happens to the radioactive waste generated by commercial nuclear reactors and defense-related facilities. In an effort to address the interests of these others groups and individuals, the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM) is expanding its public involvement activities by inviting representatives from a wider range of organizations to join in a dialogue on issues related to high-level waste disposal. Why are we doing this? Because we believe that involving were people in the program will increase understanding of the critical importance of finding a safe and environmentally responsible way to deal with nuclear waste. Furthermore, thoughtful exchanges with the public will increase our awareness of how this program may affect others. Ultimately, our goal is to help build public trust and confidence in the Federal Government's ability to accomplish its mission and in the fairness and competence of the decisionmaking process. This paper explains the rationale and objectives for OCRWM's expanded public involvement efforts; describes the process used to identify and solicit the involvement of additional parties; highlights interactions with several groups contacted to date; and reports on the early results of these consultations.

Subject Headings: Radioactive wastes | Public policy | Public opinion and participation | Waste management | Waste disposal | Storage facilities | Federal government

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