Date of Award

1996

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Community Planning

First Advisor

Howard H. Foster, Jr.

Abstract

This monograph discusses the assessment of social and economic impacts for a Low-Level Radioactive Waste (LLRW) disposal facility siting. It examines how to maximize the possibility of locating a host site by actively involving stakeholders to obtain their input on site design. To realize a siting stakeholders may require extensive information sharing and education about the proposed land use. Negotiation and use of incentive can also be useful for developing optimal policy and generating opinion in favor of a siting.

LLRW is relatively benign nuclear refuse produced in power generation, medicine, high-tech industry, and research. Compared with high-level radioactive waste that consists of large concentrations of hazardous isotopes with long half-lives, LLR W usually consists of low concentrations of short half-life isotopes ( 100 years or less). Federal health and safety policy mandates that states must develop facilities to dispose of LLRW. Massachusetts has established grants for municipalities to voluntarily evaluate whether this type of land use will convey positive economic impacts. If a majority of residents vote in favor of a siting, and the required approvals are received, many incentives and subsidies will be awarded to compensate a community for hosting a LLRW facility.

With limited resources, how should a community structure a process to assess potential economic impacts from a LLRW disposal facility? To establish evaluation criteria it is important to examine relationships between social and economic impacts. The two are related and there may be a tendency to inadequately consider the former.

Community-based economic impact deliberations promote familiarity with nuclear science and the avoidance of potential problems. Such evaluations can also be useful for addressing fears and building popular management policy. Residents can provide valuable insights on defining impacts, planning policy, conducting oversight, and implementing policy. Residents can also aid outside experts by identifying critical uncertainties in existing plans. Community residents have a good sense of how a specific land use could effect local culture.

A matrix is presented showing economic impacts that residents could consider when deciding whether to host a facility. Discussion covers short-term impacts that occur at the commencement of the siting; it also examines more intangible impacts, such as ones that have a remote probability of occurring, or which are long-range in nature, but which should be considered because the effects are uncertain, could occur over a large area, or with a significant degree of risk.

Cases are reviewed to show how socio-political factors relate to the structure and content of similar dialogues. Finally, suggestions are provided on how a Community Supervisory Committee (CSC) could successfully design a process to comprehensively evaluate the economic impacts that may arise from hosting a LLRW disposal facility. The process is in many ways a capacity building exercise involving two-way knowledge transfer. Success in this case is defined as the ability to predict and mitigate against adverse impacts, especially to groups traditionally excluded or underserved. Success is also defined by the ability to spur positive impacts and enable development of a necessary regional facility, by establishing financing mechanisms and management plans that are widely accepted as legitimate.

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