Mega-conflict project and social complexity - Illustrated by the decision-making on locating a radioactive waste repository in Denmark

Publikation: Forskning - peer reviewTidsskriftartikel

Abstrakt

The deposit of radioactive waste is a complex policy problem and a socio-technical challenge with potentially large societal impacts and a very large time horizon. These characteristics are also found in the Danish decision-making process regarding future management of radioactive waste. The process was formally initiated in 2003 when the Danish Parliament gave consent for the government to start preparing a basis for deciding a final repository for Denmark’s low- and intermediate level radioactive waste. After preliminary studies, proposal for a plan for a final repository – and later also a proposal for an interim deposit, strategic environmental assessment and hearings, the process has not led to a final political decision.

This paper explores the decision-making process of site identification, site selection process and choice of technology for storing nuclear waste in Denmark. The paper generates an understanding of the decision-making process, the social complexity involved and the development of conflict.

The main finding is that the social complexity – involving many players, many different interests and potentially large societal impacts – in a combination with a decision-making process characterised as ‘command-and-control’ turns the siting project into what is termed a ‘mega-conflict project’. The limited deliberative and participatory elements in the decision process are found to contribute to the conflict increase – leading to effects like hindrance for decision-making and increase in mistrust towards public authorities. The conflict increase though seems to potentially increase the decision quality by leading to a more thorough analysis of alternative disposal technologies, sites and impacts.
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Detaljer

The deposit of radioactive waste is a complex policy problem and a socio-technical challenge with potentially large societal impacts and a very large time horizon. These characteristics are also found in the Danish decision-making process regarding future management of radioactive waste. The process was formally initiated in 2003 when the Danish Parliament gave consent for the government to start preparing a basis for deciding a final repository for Denmark’s low- and intermediate level radioactive waste. After preliminary studies, proposal for a plan for a final repository – and later also a proposal for an interim deposit, strategic environmental assessment and hearings, the process has not led to a final political decision.

This paper explores the decision-making process of site identification, site selection process and choice of technology for storing nuclear waste in Denmark. The paper generates an understanding of the decision-making process, the social complexity involved and the development of conflict.

The main finding is that the social complexity – involving many players, many different interests and potentially large societal impacts – in a combination with a decision-making process characterised as ‘command-and-control’ turns the siting project into what is termed a ‘mega-conflict project’. The limited deliberative and participatory elements in the decision process are found to contribute to the conflict increase – leading to effects like hindrance for decision-making and increase in mistrust towards public authorities. The conflict increase though seems to potentially increase the decision quality by leading to a more thorough analysis of alternative disposal technologies, sites and impacts.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftEnvironmental Science & Policy
ISSN1462-9011
StatusUnder udarbejdelse - 2018

    Emneord

  • Atomaffald, Beslutningsproces, Konflikt, Social kompleksitet
ID: 259462632