Societal value of nuclear decommissioning and remediation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng


The principle aim of the research is to examine the role of stakeholder engagement and public perception in nuclear management, reviewing how society values decommissioning and remediation, informing Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) decision making processes and drawing on lessons learnt in other industries. This aligns with current government nuclear strategy. (Department of Energy & Climate Change, 2013) Mutual impact of the NDA stakeholders falls at the core of this project.
Considering the current nuclear legacy in the UK has a long term decommissioning plan of 120 years (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, 2015) with an estimated cost of £90-120 billion (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, 2015) this is an intergenerational issue. Stakeholder engagement has been identified as key to sustainable solutions. (OECD)
For decades there has been an international fear of nuclear power (Anni Huhtala, 2014) and the unknown risks (John R. Parkins, 2011) leading to many organisations and charities clashing with the government, bringing further complication to every stage including decommissioning (Jon Samseth, 2012). This again is making headlines with the Hinkley Point nuclear power facility, reportedly to be the most expensive energy station in the world at £24.5bn (Adams, 2015). The aims of this research are to find measurable ways to investigate the perceived societal value of decommissioning nuclear and the lasting environmental legacy.
The research stems from a crossover of social science and economic issues, but within an engineering frame. Thus a mixed method research approach will be necessary to reflect the opinions and anecdotal evidence collected qualitatively in a comparable quantitative manner (John W. Creswell, 2011).
This research is important for the government, NDA and other involved organisations to gain a better understanding of societal view on decommissioning and remediation of nuclear power (Wareing, 2009), and how this knowledge could be us to make policy reflect practice (Claudia Wood, 2010) by interact with stakeholders, open accessible communication channels, and feed into the decision making process of prioritising steps in site end state planning.
The objectives as outlined in the project brief are:
To review how society values decommissioning and remediation, drawing on lessons learnt in other industries;
To develop appropriate metrics to support the decisions relating to the optimisation of Site End States;
To map out the interactions with other valuation systems, and decommissioning and remediation strategic decision-making approaches;
To inform decisions relating to the pace and prioritisation of decommissioning and remediation activities, and;
To examine issues of stakeholder engagement and public perception, and how these influence the management of nuclear estate.
Literature Review
Value: "The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something"; Societal: "Relating to society". (Oxford English Dictioinary, 2014)
'Society' has been defined as "The aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community" (Oxford Dictionary, 2015). This hints at looking at different groups of stakeholders, ergo the relationships between people and the roles they play. This varies depending what defined special 'environment' is being considered. Throughout the research the meaning of society will inevitably grow and change in reflection of suitable literature.
Extensive work has been done that aims to determine the factors at play in determining social views and value of nuclear power, such as in Australia (Stehlik, 2010) or by the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (Wareing, 2009). Although much of the initial literature review may revolve around the nuclear sector itself, with the problematic process of defining what is meant by 'value' and 'society' in regards to this specific research (Mulgan, 2010) the literature will ex


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509280/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2020
1687306 Studentship EP/N509280/1 06/01/2016 31/12/2019 Cara Mulholland
Description As the research is at an early stage there has not been much impact to date, and what has been seen is reported back in informal conversations. Through presenting some preliminary findings at industry events and partaking in other project work with the industrial support team the findings of the work are making people reconsider practices and frame them in a new way. On a basic level the work has been influential in encouraging discussion of Social Value in new groups. Since March 2018 this research has been presented at 2 industry events for audiences who the work would be relevant (nuclear decommissioning). From questions and comments from the audience after presenting the researcher observed engagement with the material and enthusiasm for future outputs. Contributing a chapter to the book Social Value in Construction this research has been presented for a non-academic audience who may want to put social value into practice.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Construction,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services