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Environmental Equity and Nuclear Waste Repository Siting in East Asia

Part of the New Frontiers in Regional Science: Asian Perspectives book series (NFRSASIPER,volume 42)

Abstract

Research by Kingsley Haynes and colleagues has emphasized the importance of spatial scale in the analysis of environmental (in)equity in the patterns of toxic chemical releases vs. residential location, especially at county and census tract levels. Earlier work has explored the use of multiple-criteria decision tools in siting electric power plants and waste disposal repositories, where technical, geologic, political, and socioeconomic criteria and standards operate at county and higher spatial scales. For these problems, appropriate consideration of environmental equity will be different than when operating at solely the county and census tract scale. The nuclear waste problem in particular takes on regional dimensions and raises vexing questions of intergenerational as well as intragenerational environmental equity when a decision process for repository siting is developed. In this chapter, these issues will be explored in the context of nuclear waste repository siting, for both high-level and low-level wastes, and potential population exposure to long-lived radioactive wastes. Four case studies in East Asia will be presented: Japan, South Korea, China, and Taiwan. Three equity principles are applied to the case studies: voluntary assumption of a harm or burden, risk avoidance and risk reduction, and benefit-burden concordance. None of the cases meet all of the principles, while only Japan meets two of them. Thus, governments in all of the cases have more work to do to establish equitable programs for nuclear waste repository siting.

Keywords

  • Environmental equity
  • High-level radioactive waste
  • Low-level radioactive waste
  • Repository siting
  • Wicked problem

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Solomon, B.D., Li, F. (2020). Environmental Equity and Nuclear Waste Repository Siting in East Asia. In: Chen, Z., Bowen, W., Whittington, D. (eds) Development Studies in Regional Science. New Frontiers in Regional Science: Asian Perspectives, vol 42. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-1435-7_10

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