EPRG 0918

David M. Reiner and William J. Nuttall

Public and Social Acceptability of Geological Disposal of Carbon Dioxide and Radioactive Waste:  Similarities and Differences

EPRG 0918 Non-Technical Summary | PDF

Abstract: Physically, geological storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) and of nuclear waste are fundamentally different problems in terms of scale and toxicity. The political and social differences are equally stark — consider the almost complete lack of awareness of CO2 storage versus the highly-charged political debates over storage of radioactive wastes and the exceptionalism of nuclear in the broader cultural and political context. Nevertheless, there are some notable similarities, including the difficulty of extricating not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) behaviour from other concerns, the inability to divorce the politics of waste streams from the underlying electricity generating technologies, the highly technical nature of both issues and the role that both CO2 storage and nuclear waste play in the larger debate over energy policy, particularly as a proxy issue for non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Surveys of public attitudes with respect to geological storage are reviewed and the role of NIMBY and compensation to local communities in facilitating the siting of storage facilities are assessed.

Keywords: Public attitudes; Geological disposal; CCS; CO2 storage: nuclear waste; NIMBY; energy policy

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