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Title: Radioactive waste : Institutional determinants of management and disposal policy in three European countries.
Author: Berkhout, F.
ISNI:       0000 0001 1077 7663
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1989
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The objective of this thesis has been to write a detailed historical account of the policy and practice of radioactive waste management in Britain. Sweden and West Germany, and to draw out implications for theory and public policy. The research was motivated by the perception that many of the technical and socio-political problems of dealing with radioactive wastes had not been resolved. and that these had a critical bearing on the political viability of civil nuclear programmes. By comparing the evolution of the policy process in three countries it has been possible to develop a better understanding of the particular operational. regulatory and political factors determining policy in each case. In addition. fundamental issues in the regulation of radwastes - the setting of standards and criteria for management and disposal, the institutional structure for oversight and policy-making, research policy and its relation to storage. treatment. disposal and siting policy. and the validation of disposal techniques according to performance goals amid great long-term uncertainty - have been clarified through their analysis in a comparative framework. The main conclusions are three-fold. First. the presence or absence of commitments to the reprocessing of spent fuel for a wide range of strategic, industrial and legal reasons have been critical to the success in finding an acceptable radwaste management and disposal policy (or strategy). Politically it is not possible to make a clear distinction between radwaste management and policy for the rest of the back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle. Analytically It is also not possible to separate the two. Second, because of this complex but intimate relationship to reprocessing policy, the dynamism and consistency of radwaste policies are highly dependent on the industrial and political contexts of the drive to reprocessing. Traditionally a view on reprocessing has been virtually synonomous with a faith or scepticism in the future of nuclear power. Experience in the three countries covered in this research shows that there may be a basic conflict between integrated and viable radwaste policies and strong nuclear policies. In this sense radioactive waste could turn out to be the achilles heel of the nuclear industry. Third, the policy process, and indeed its goals, was rather unique to national circumstances (the legal and institutional framework, industrial and political structures). This demonstrates one of the principle arguments of the thesis which is that the innovation process for radwaste management and disposal technologies cannot be seen merely as a technical process, but has to be seen as a process of political and institutional negotiations. There are no perfect' solutions'. Questions of procedure and the context of policy have to be considered as central to the innovation process. Generalizing the patterns which emerge is however difficult, and conclusions must be applied with care under conditions of continuing change and uncertainty.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available