The Societal Aspects of Decision Making in Complex Radiological Situations

Workshop Proceedings, Villigen, Switzerland, 13-15 January 1998

Nuclear Energy Agency

In its 1994 collective opinion, Radiation Protection Today and Tomorrow, the NEA Committee on Radiation Protection and Public Health (CRPPH) concluded that societal participation in the decision-making process is becoming increasingly important. This was seen as particularly true in the case of decisions involving complex radiological situations such as those following a nuclear or radiological accident (for example, the Chernobyl accident, or fallout from atomic bomb testing in the Marshall Islands), and other long-lasting exposures (such as areas contaminated by uranium mill tailings). In order to explore this issue further, the CRPPH organised a workshop in January 1998 on the societal aspects of decision making in complex radiological situations.

At the workshop - which was hosted in Villigen, Switzerland, by the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (HSK) - participants concluded that it is no longer possible to take decisions in such situations without a transparent process involving the public from a very early stage. This decision-making process, which is described herein, was also seen as being valuable for other situations, such as the siting of high-level nuclear waste repositories. Recommendations for follow-up by the CRPPH are also included.