Large-scale Nuclear Risk Analysis: Its Impacts and Future
The international emergence of the large-scale nuclear risk study has stimulated both common and divergent responses and societal impacts. The commonalities doubtlessly owe much to the nature of this ‘technique’ as an innovation in technology assessment and safety assurance institutions and practices. Divergences arise from a number of sources – the emphasis placed upon nuclear power as part of a national energy strategy, the scale and political effectiveness of anti-nuclear sentiment, the degree to which safety regulation is a public or relatively closed exercise, the particular mix of nuclear generation systems adopted, and, above all, the configuration of the particular political culture. It is striking that the large-scale risk study has emerged in those countries (the US, West Germany and Sweden) where public scrutiny of government is extensive, where the law and the constitutional norms encourage citizen use of the courts to test the legitimacy and administrative fairness of regulatory decisions (not applicable to Sweden), and where local government (state, land, commune) plays an important role in licensing the construction of a plant. It also emerged in countries where public (notably, informed public) suspicion of nuclear power was growing and where new developments or an acceleration in the existing nuclear programme were in process or proposed.