Advertisement

A Social License for Nuclear Technologies

  • Seth HoedlEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Nuclear energy technologies have the potential to help mitigate climate change. However, these technologies face many challenges, including high costs, societal concern and opposition, and health, safety, environmental and proliferation risks. Many companies and academic research groups are pursuing advanced designs, both fission and fusion-based, to address both costs and these risks. This chapter complements these efforts by analyzing how nuclear technologies can address societal concerns through the acquisition of a social license, a nebulous concept that represents ‘society’s consent’ and that has been used to facilitate and improve a wide range of publically and privately funded projects and activities subject to a range of regulatory oversight, including large industrial facilities, controversial genetic engineering research, and environmental management. Suggestions for public engagement and consent-based siting, two aspects of a social license, have been made before. The chapter modernizes these suggestions by briefly reviewing the social license and engagement literature. It discusses, in the context of how to acquire a social license, the role of government regulation, the role of project proponents and government actors, and the role of four key principles, including engendering trust, transparency, meaningful public engagement, and protection of health, safety and the environment. Further, the chapter uses the social license concept to explain why some nuclear waste repositories have succeeded while others languish, and it provides concrete recommendations for the deployment of new nuclear waste repositories and advanced power plants, both fission and fusion-based.

Keywords

Social License Nuclear Waste Nuclear Power Fission Fusion 

References

  1. Bankes N (2015) The social license to operate: Mind the gap. University of Calgary Faculty of Law Blog on Developments in Alberta Law. http://ablawg.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Blog_NB_SLO_June2015.pdf. Accessed 23 March 2017
  2. Bickerstaffe J, Pearce D (1980) Can There Be a Consensus on Nuclear Power? Social Studies of Science 10:309–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (2012) Report to the Secretary of Energy. U.S. Department of EnergyGoogle Scholar
  4. Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen (2017) Social License to Operate. http://landman.ca/2017/03/13/social-license-operate/. Accessed 23 March 2017
  5. Carter P, Laurie GT, Dixon-Woods M (2015) The social licence for research: Why care.data ran into trouble. Journal of Medical Ethics 41:404–409.  https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2014-102374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Childers L Hon, Grunig J (1999) Guidelines for Measuring Relationships in Public Relations. Institute for Public RelationsGoogle Scholar
  7. Coglianese C, Kilmartin H, Mendelson E (2008) Transparency and public participation in the federal rulemaking process: Recommendations for the new administration. Geo Wash L Rev 77:924Google Scholar
  8. Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context Implementation Committee (2011) Opinions of the Implementation Committee (2001–2010)Google Scholar
  9. Cotton T (2006) Nuclear Waste Story: Setting the Stage. In: Macfarlane A, Ewing RC (eds) Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation’s High-level Nuclear Waste. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  10. Curry A (2017) What Lies Beneath. The AtlanticGoogle Scholar
  11. Dixon-Woods M, Ashcroft RE (2008) Regulation and the social licence for medical research. Med Health Care and Philos 11:381–391.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11019-008-9152-0CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Edenhofer O (ed) (2014) Climate change 2014: Mitigation of climate change. Working Group III contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  13. Erikson K (1990) Toxic Reckoning: Business Faces a New Kind of Fear. Harvard Business Review 68:118–126Google Scholar
  14. Ewing R, Hippel FV (2009) Nuclear Waste Management in the United States - Starting Over. Science 325:151–2.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1174594CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Falk J (1982) Global fission - The battle over nuclear power.Google Scholar
  16. Fiorino DJ (1990) Citizen Participation and Environmental Risk: A Survey of Institutional Mechanisms. Science, Technology, & Human Values 15:226–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fountain H (2017) On Nuclear Waste, Finland Shows U.S. How It Can Be Done. The New York TimesGoogle Scholar
  18. Gunningham N, Kagan RA, Thornton D (2004) Social license and environmental protection: Why businesses go beyond compliance. Law & Social Inquiry 29:307–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hall N, Lacey J, Carr-Cornish S, Dowd A-M (2015) Social licence to operate: Understanding how a concept has been translated into practice in energy industries. Journal of Cleaner Production 86:301–310.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.08.020CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Institute for Energy Research (2018) Regulations Hurt Economics of Nuclear Power. IER. https://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/regulations-hurt-economics-nuclear-power/. Accessed 3 May 2018
  21. Institute of Medicine (2014) Oversight and Review of Clinical Gene Transfer Protocols: Assessing the Role of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  22. International Atomic Energy Agency (ed) (2008) Chernobyl: Looking back to go forward. Proceedings of an International Conference on Chernobyl: Looking Back to Go Forward … held in Vienna, 6–7 September 2005. International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  23. International Energy Agency (2015) Special Report on Climate Change. OECD Publishing, ParisGoogle Scholar
  24. International Law Commission (2001) Draft Articles on Prevention of Transboundary Harm from Hazardous ActivitiesGoogle Scholar
  25. Lassiter J (2018) Op-Ed: Why Private Investors Must Fund “New Nuclear” Power Right Now. HBS Working Knowledge. http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/op-ed-why-private-investors-must-fund-new-nuclear-power-right-now. Accessed 25 April 2018
  26. Lidskog R, Sundqvist G (2004) On the right track? Technology, geology and society in Swedish nuclear waste management. Journal of Risk Research 7:251–268.  https://doi.org/10.1080/1366987042000171924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Long JC, Scott D (2013) Vested Interests and Geoengineering Research. Issues in Science and Technology 29:45–52.Google Scholar
  28. Macfarlane A, Ewing RC (eds) (2006) Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation’s High-level Nuclear Waste. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  29. Mufson M (1982) Psychosocial Aspects of Nuclear Power: A Review of the International Literature. In: American Psychiatric Association (ed) Psychosocial aspects of nuclear developments. American Psychiatric Association, Washington, D.CGoogle Scholar
  30. Murphy W (2006) Regulating the Geologic Disposal of High-Level Nuclear Waste at Yucca Mountain. In: Macfarlane A, Ewing RC (eds) Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation’s High-level Nuclear Waste. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  31. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2016) Gene Drives on the Horizon: Advancing Science, Navigating Uncertainty, and Aligning Research with Public Values. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  32. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (2016) Recommendations for the Evaluation and Oversight of Proposed Gain-Of-Function Research. National Science Advisory Board for BiosecurityGoogle Scholar
  33. Nuclear Energy Institute (2018) Ensuring the Future of U.S. Nuclear Energy. Creating a Streamlined and Predictable Licensing Pathway to DeploymentGoogle Scholar
  34. Ottinger G (2013) Changing Knowledge, Local Knowledge, and Knowledge Gaps: STS Insights into Procedural Justice. Science, Technology, & Human Values 38:250–270.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243912469669CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Otway HJ, Maurer D, Thomas K (1978) Nuclear power: The question of public acceptance. Futures 10:109–118.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0016-3287(78)90065-4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Plumer B (2018) The U.S. Backs Off Nuclear Power. Georgia Wants to Keep Building Reactors. The New York TimesGoogle Scholar
  37. Raman S, Mohr A (2014) A social licence for science: Capturing the public or co-constructing research? Social Epistemology 28:258–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Reed MS (2008) Stakeholder participation for environmental management: A literature review. Biological Conservation 141:2417–2431.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2008.07.014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Reed MS, Graves A, Dandy N et al (2009) Who’s in and why? A typology of stakeholder analysis methods for natural resource management. Journal of Environmental Management 90:1933–1949.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2009.01.001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Reed MS, Vella S, Challies E et al (2018) A theory of participation: What makes stakeholder and public engagement in environmental management work? Restoration Ecology 26:S7–S17.  https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rooney D, Leach J, Ashworth P (2014) Doing the Social in Social License. Social Epistemology 28:209–218.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02691728.2014.922644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Slovic P (1987) Perception of risk. Science 236:280–285.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.3563507CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Slovic P (1996) Perception of Risk from Radiation. Radiation Protection Dosimetry 68:165–180.  https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.rpd.a031860CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Slovic P, Flynn JH, Layman M (1991) Perceived Risk, Trust, and the Politics of Nuclear Waste. Science 254:1603–1607.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.254.5038.1603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sorbom BN, Ball J, Palmer TR, et al (2015) ARC: A compact, high-field, fusion nuclear science facility and demonstration power plant with demountable magnets. Fusion Engineering and Design 100:378–405.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fusengdes.2015.07.008CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stilgoe J, Irwin A, Jones K (2006) The received wisdom: Opening up expert advice. Demos, LondonGoogle Scholar
  47. Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (2011) Application for license under the nuclear activities actGoogle Scholar
  48. The Economist (20 July 2013), Limiting the fallout https://www.economist.com/china/2013/07/20/limiting-the-fallout
  49. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (2017) Implementation of the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (2013–2015) Fifth review. United Nations PublicationGoogle Scholar
  50. U.S. FDA, Center for Veterinary Medicine (2017) Guidance for Industry #187, Regulation of Intentionally Altered Genomic DNA in Animals, Draft GuidanceGoogle Scholar
  51. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (2004) Nuclear Power Plant Licensing ProcessGoogle Scholar
  52. U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Majority Staff (2006) Yucca Mountain: The most studied real estate on the planetGoogle Scholar
  53. Whipple C (2006) Performance Assessment: What Is It and Why Is It Done? In: Macfarlane A, Ewing RC (eds) Uncertainty Underground: Yucca Mountain and the Nation’s High-level Nuclear Waste. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  54. Wong E (2016) Coal Burning Causes the Most Air Pollution Deaths in China, Study Finds. The New York TimesGoogle Scholar
  55. Zhang S (2017) The White House Revives a Controversial Plan for Nuclear Waste. The AtlanticGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser press and the authors 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EmeryvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations