Monday, 7 November 2011

Dumping Democracy

Use No 31


Extract from the excellent, myth busting book:
Contesting the future of nuclear power
Benjamin K Sovacool, World Scientific, 2011.

"In one of its most intractable problems, that of nuclear waste, the
industry has outright manipulated data and limited true public participation
to get its way. Some studies of consumer attitudes and public
opinions have shown that public groups will support nuclear power
expansion if assurances of safe waste disposal are provided, but will not
if the waste problem is not resolved.(113) Thus, nuclear power proponents - trade
groups, vendors, and utilities - have shifted from a technical
discourse, which is full of uncertainty, to a public discourse of inclusive
and respectful public consultation about siting as well as criterions of
acceptability and safety. Yet, one study of such efforts in Canada found
that they do not involve true consultation or participation, whereby
citizens have the chance to influence eventual decisions, and are instead
public relations exercises used to reinvent the industry.(114) Nuclear
groups employ public consultation sessions to (1) demonstrate consent
and approval when they do get it, or (2) construct the public as having
fragmented values and opinions that will never be overcome when they
do not get it, telling regulators they should ultimately defer to the
nuclear industry. This situation does not bode well for democracy, the
study concluded, as the public is co-opted either way. Public consultation
is converted from a means to inform public policy into an end
justifying nuclear expansion".

113 See Frans Berkhout, Radioactive Waste: Politics and Technology (London:
Routledge, 1991); A. Blowers, D. Lowry, and B. Solomon, The International
Politics of Nuclear Waste (New.York: Macmillan, 1991); A. Blowers, "Nuclear
Waste and Landscapes of Risk;' Landscapes Research 24(3) (1999),
pp. 241-264; and Peter Stoett, "Toward Renewed Legitimacy? Nuclear Power,
Global Warming, and Security:' Global Environmental Politics 3(1) (2003),

114 Darrin Durant, "Buying Globally, Acting Locally: Control and Co-Option
in Nuclear Waste Management," Science and Public Policy 34(7)
(August, 2007), pp. 515-528.

This extract has been published on 101 Uses.. with the kind permission of Professor Benjamin K Sovacool

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