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Perception of risk and the future of nuclear power

Abstract

Scientists and policy makers were slow to recognize the importance of public attitudes and perceptions in shaping the fate of nuclear power. In 1976, Alvin Weinberg observed: 'As I compare the issues we perceived during the infancy of nuclear energy with those that have emerged during its maturity, the public perception and acceptance of nuclear energy appears to be the question that we missed rather badly.... This issue has emerged as the most critical question concerning the future of nuclear energy.' Today, fourteen years later, the problem of public acceptance is even more critical. Either the problem is damn tough or we have not been working hard enough to solve it (I suspect that both of these assertions are true). Public support for nuclear power has declined steadily for a decade and a half, driven by a number of powerful forces and events. In mid-March of 1979, the movie The China Syndrome had its premier, dramatizing the worst-case predictions of the earliest risk assessment studies. Two weeks later, events at Three Mile Island made the movie appear prophetic. Succeeding years have brought us Chernobyl and other major technological disasters, most notably Bhopal and the Challenger accident. The public has drawn  More>>
Authors:
Slovic, P [1] 
  1. University of Oregon and Decision Research, Eugene, OR (United States)
Publication Date:
Jul 01, 1990
Product Type:
Conference
Report Number:
INIS-XA-N-191; MIT-ANP-CP-001
Resource Relation:
Conference: 1. MIT international conference on the next generation of nuclear power technology, Cambridge, MA (United States), 4-5 Oct 1990; Other Information: 31 refs, 1 tab; Related Information: In: Proceedings of the first MIT international conference on the next generation of nuclear power technology, 258 pages.
Subject:
22 GENERAL STUDIES OF NUCLEAR REACTORS; ACCIDENTS; CONTAMINATION; HAZARDS; INDUSTRY; NUCLEAR ENERGY; NUCLEAR POWER; NUCLEAR WEAPONS; PUBLIC OPINION; RADIOACTIVE WASTES; RADON; RISK ASSESSMENT; SAVANNAH RIVER
OSTI ID:
20767347
Research Organizations:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Program for Advanced Nuclear Power Studies, Cambridge, MA (United States)
Country of Origin:
IAEA
Language:
English
Other Identifying Numbers:
TRN: XA04N2128073972
Availability:
Available from INIS in electronic form
Submitting Site:
INIS
Size:
6 pages
Announcement Date:
Sep 23, 2006

Citation Formats

Slovic, P. Perception of risk and the future of nuclear power. IAEA: N. p., 1990. Web.
Slovic, P. Perception of risk and the future of nuclear power. IAEA.
Slovic, P. 1990. "Perception of risk and the future of nuclear power." IAEA.
@misc{etde_20767347,
title = {Perception of risk and the future of nuclear power}
author = {Slovic, P}
abstractNote = {Scientists and policy makers were slow to recognize the importance of public attitudes and perceptions in shaping the fate of nuclear power. In 1976, Alvin Weinberg observed: 'As I compare the issues we perceived during the infancy of nuclear energy with those that have emerged during its maturity, the public perception and acceptance of nuclear energy appears to be the question that we missed rather badly.... This issue has emerged as the most critical question concerning the future of nuclear energy.' Today, fourteen years later, the problem of public acceptance is even more critical. Either the problem is damn tough or we have not been working hard enough to solve it (I suspect that both of these assertions are true). Public support for nuclear power has declined steadily for a decade and a half, driven by a number of powerful forces and events. In mid-March of 1979, the movie The China Syndrome had its premier, dramatizing the worst-case predictions of the earliest risk assessment studies. Two weeks later, events at Three Mile Island made the movie appear prophetic. Succeeding years have brought us Chernobyl and other major technological disasters, most notably Bhopal and the Challenger accident. The public has drawn a common message from these accidents - that nuclear (and other) complex technology is unsafe, that expertise is inadequate, and that government and industry cannot be trusted to manage nuclear power safely. These dramatic accidents and the distrust they have spawned have been reinforced by numerous chronic problems involving radiation, such as the discovery of significant radon concentrations in many homes, the continuing battles over the siting of facilities to store or dispose of nuclear wastes, and the disclosures of serious environmental contamination emanating from nuclear weapons facilities (at Hanford, Fernald, Rocky Flats and Savannah River)}
place = {IAEA}
year = {1990}
month = {Jul}
}