35 statewide public opinion surveys taken over a decade reveal changing levels of acceptance regarding the nuclear waste repository in New Mexico.
The analysis revealed that public acceptance gradually increased and when the nuclear waste facility was opened in March 1999, it received significant support from the New Mexicans.
According to Hank Jenkins-Smith, lead author in the analysis, tsunami, earthquake and related nuclear leaks in Japan have raised public awareness about the issue of stocking nuclear fuel onsite.
According to the analysis, the expanded regulatory process included community input, multiple agencies and independent scientific reviews that helped to increase the support for the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in New Mexico. The process increased public acceptance and confidence on WIPP.
The new analysis is titled as “Reversing Nuclear Opposition: Evolving Public Acceptance of a Permanent Nuclear Waste Disposal Facility.” The article was published in the April issue of “Risk Analysis” by Society for Risk Analysis. Matthew Nowlin, Grant deLozier and Carol Silva of University of Oklahoma’s Center for Applied Social Research were authors of the study.
Regulatory review process to license and operate the WIPP repository has practical implications on future efforts for siting centralized nuclear storage plants. Support for this project steadily grew over time though there had been some initial opposition from the public. Researchers discovered that support for the WIPP nuclear waste repository was received from people living near the area, where nuclear waste shipment is done.