Lay public perception of geological disposal: Results from the 2017-2018 SCK•CEN Barometer

Catrinel Turcanu, Jantine Schröder, Tanja Perko

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    This report describes the results from a study on lay public perception of geological disposal of radioactive waste in Belgium. Data underlying the study originate from the SCK•CEN Barometer, a large scale public opinion survey among the Belgian public . Data were collected between 27/11/2017 and 26/02/2018 using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing. Results show that people have little knowledge of what is currently being done with radioactive waste. Although geological disposal is, in general, not considered as the ultimate solution for solving the issue of high-level radioactive waste, most citizens nevertheless think that it should be implemented as soon as possible. The main reasons for this opinion are that high-level radioactive waste is “too dangerous to be left on surface” or that there is “no other good option”. There is, however, some support for retrievability and high support for monitoring over time. For those respondents that do not think geological disposal should be implemented as soon as possible, the reason mostly mentioned is the need to also investigate other options. Results also highlight the sensitivity to the needs to future generations and high expectations for broad stakeholder engagement. High-level radioactive waste management is seen as a multi-stakeholder responsibility, with the nuclear safety authority, the radioactive waste manager and a scientific experts committee as the main actors, followed by the government and NGO’s. While one in three respondents say they would never agree and even protest against a geological disposal near their home, no less than 50% expresses an interest to learn more and to constructively participate in the decision-making process. These results indicate the importance of raising awareness about the existence and current practices related to radioactive waste; the prominence of social aspects in long-term radioactive waste management; and the relevance of early and broad engagement in discussing, designing and implementing the proposed technology of geological disposal.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherSCK CEN
    Number of pages37
    StatePublished - 26 Mar 2018

    Publication series

    NameSCK•CEN Reports
    PublisherStudiecentrum voor Kernenergie

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