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Title: Eliciting Public Attitudes Regarding Bioremediation Cleanup Technologies: Lessons Learned from a Consensus Workshop in Idaho

Abstract

During the summer of 2002, we developed and implemented a ''consensus workshop'' with Idaho citizens to elicit their concerns and issues regarding the use of bioremediation as a cleanup technology for radioactive nuclides and heavy metals at Department of Energy (DOE) sites. The consensus workshop is a derivation of a technology assessment method designed to ensure dialogue between experts and lay people. It has its origins in the United States in the form of ''consensus development conferences'' used by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to elicit professional knowledge and concerns about new medical treatments. Over the last 25 years, NIH has conducted over 100 consensus development conferences. (Jorgensen 1995). The consensus conference is grounded in the idea that technology assessment and policy needs to be socially negotiated among many different stakeholders and groups rather than narrowly defined by a group of experts. To successfully implement new technology, the public requires access to information that addresses a full complement of issues including understanding the organization proposing the technology. The consensus conference method creates an informed dialogue, making technology understandable to the general public and sets it within perspectives and priorities that may differ radically from those of the expert community.more » While specific outcomes differ depending on the overall context of a conference, one expected outcome is that citizen panel members develop greater knowledge of the technology during the conference process and, sometimes, the entire panel experiences a change in attitude toward the technology and/or the organization proposing its use (Kluver 1995). The purpose of this research project was to explore the efficacy of the consensus conference model as a way to elicit the input of the general public about bioremediation of radionuclides and heavy metals at Department of Energy sites. Objectives of the research included: (1) defining the range of concerns of the public toward different bioremediation strategies and long-term stewardship; (2) creating materials and delivery methods that address bioremediation issues; and (3) assessing the effectiveness of the consensus workshop in identifying concerns about bioremediation and involving the public in a dialogue about their use. After a brief description of the Idaho workshop, we discuss the range of concerns articulated by the participants about bioremediation, discuss the materials and delivery methods used to communicate information about bioremediation, and assess the effectiveness of the consensus workshop. In summary we found that panel members in general: understood complex technical issues, especially when given enough time in a facilitated discussion with experts; are generally accepting of in situ bioremediation, but concerned about costs, safety, and effectiveness of the technology; are concerned equally about technology and decision processes; and liked the consensus workshop approach to learning about bioremediation.« less

Authors:
;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
837162
DOE Contract Number:  
FG03-01ER63140
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY AND ECONOMY; ATTITUDES; BIOREMEDIATION; HEAVY METALS; PUBLIC OPINION; RADIOISOTOPES

Citation Formats

Denise Lach, Principle Investigator, and Stephanie Sanford, Co-P.I.. Eliciting Public Attitudes Regarding Bioremediation Cleanup Technologies: Lessons Learned from a Consensus Workshop in Idaho. United States: N. p., 2003. Web. doi:10.2172/837162.
Denise Lach, Principle Investigator, & Stephanie Sanford, Co-P.I.. Eliciting Public Attitudes Regarding Bioremediation Cleanup Technologies: Lessons Learned from a Consensus Workshop in Idaho. United States. doi:10.2172/837162.
Denise Lach, Principle Investigator, and Stephanie Sanford, Co-P.I.. Sat . "Eliciting Public Attitudes Regarding Bioremediation Cleanup Technologies: Lessons Learned from a Consensus Workshop in Idaho". United States. doi:10.2172/837162. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/837162.
@article{osti_837162,
title = {Eliciting Public Attitudes Regarding Bioremediation Cleanup Technologies: Lessons Learned from a Consensus Workshop in Idaho},
author = {Denise Lach, Principle Investigator and Stephanie Sanford, Co-P.I.},
abstractNote = {During the summer of 2002, we developed and implemented a ''consensus workshop'' with Idaho citizens to elicit their concerns and issues regarding the use of bioremediation as a cleanup technology for radioactive nuclides and heavy metals at Department of Energy (DOE) sites. The consensus workshop is a derivation of a technology assessment method designed to ensure dialogue between experts and lay people. It has its origins in the United States in the form of ''consensus development conferences'' used by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to elicit professional knowledge and concerns about new medical treatments. Over the last 25 years, NIH has conducted over 100 consensus development conferences. (Jorgensen 1995). The consensus conference is grounded in the idea that technology assessment and policy needs to be socially negotiated among many different stakeholders and groups rather than narrowly defined by a group of experts. To successfully implement new technology, the public requires access to information that addresses a full complement of issues including understanding the organization proposing the technology. The consensus conference method creates an informed dialogue, making technology understandable to the general public and sets it within perspectives and priorities that may differ radically from those of the expert community. While specific outcomes differ depending on the overall context of a conference, one expected outcome is that citizen panel members develop greater knowledge of the technology during the conference process and, sometimes, the entire panel experiences a change in attitude toward the technology and/or the organization proposing its use (Kluver 1995). The purpose of this research project was to explore the efficacy of the consensus conference model as a way to elicit the input of the general public about bioremediation of radionuclides and heavy metals at Department of Energy sites. Objectives of the research included: (1) defining the range of concerns of the public toward different bioremediation strategies and long-term stewardship; (2) creating materials and delivery methods that address bioremediation issues; and (3) assessing the effectiveness of the consensus workshop in identifying concerns about bioremediation and involving the public in a dialogue about their use. After a brief description of the Idaho workshop, we discuss the range of concerns articulated by the participants about bioremediation, discuss the materials and delivery methods used to communicate information about bioremediation, and assess the effectiveness of the consensus workshop. In summary we found that panel members in general: understood complex technical issues, especially when given enough time in a facilitated discussion with experts; are generally accepting of in situ bioremediation, but concerned about costs, safety, and effectiveness of the technology; are concerned equally about technology and decision processes; and liked the consensus workshop approach to learning about bioremediation.},
doi = {10.2172/837162},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Sat Mar 01 00:00:00 EST 2003},
month = {Sat Mar 01 00:00:00 EST 2003}
}

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