Social Assessment of Siting a Low-Level Radioactive Waste Storage Facility in Michigan2


This project was funded in 1988- 1990 by the State of Michigan and the Midwest Compact for the disposal of lowlevel radioactive waste. Funds were officially provided by the Michigan Low-Level Radioactive Waste Authority, of Lansing, Michigan. The Compact included the states of Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. While all of these upper midwest states produce the LLRW, studies conducted before this project began had determined that Michigan was the only state where an appropriate isolation site could be found.

Funding was provided to Drs Michael Traugott and Richard Stoffle both research scientists at the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Michigan. Stoffle also held an appointment in the School of Natural Resources at UofM which facilitated the participation of students from that unit.

The purpose of the study was to conduct a state-wide social impact assessment (SIA) of where a Low-Level Radioactive Waste (LLRW) isolation site could be established which would provided maximum social benefits and minimum social impacts. Environmental considerations were studied by other research teams.

The ISR social impact assessment study (see reports below) was divided into two distinct kinds of SIA studies. Michael Traugott and his ISR team conducted quantitative surveys to understand the state-wide public perspective of radioactivity in general and radioactive waste specifically. Richard Stoffle and his ISR and SNR research team conducted ethnographic research in selected communities to understand the same questions. The two social studies constantly interacted to provide iterative questions and research designs. One findings from this combined methodology was that both kinds of studies produced approximately the same results.

A major finding from the study was that Risk Perception Shadows were created near communities and areas where a potential LLRW isolation facility was being considered. As the study teams became aware of this social construction, a new methodology was development to identify and assess these Risk Perception Shadows. The methodology was termed Risk Perception Mapping (RPM).

The Following Are Published Findings from the Study (only the official IRS published reports are incorporated into this collection):

Sommers, L. K., Y. Lockwood, M. MacDowell, and R. Stoffle
1994 Folklife Assessment Within the Michigan Low-Level Radioactive Waste Siting Process. In Mary Hufford ed., Conserving Culture: A New Discourse on Heritage. Urban, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. Pp 198-214.

Stoffle, R. W., J. Stone, and S. Heeringa
1993 Mapping Risk Perception Shadows: Public Response To Siting a Low-Level Radioactive Waste Facility in Michigan. The Environmental Professional 15: 316-333.

Stoffle, R. W., M. Traugott, and J. Stone
1992 Communication and Persistence of Risk Information: A Case Study of Michigan's Proposed Low-Level Radioactive Waste Storage Facility. In Hazardous Materials/Wastes: Social Aspects of Facility Planning and Management: Proceedings. Institute for Social Impact Assessment: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. P.390 -399.

Stoffle, R. W., M. Traugott, J. Stone, P. McIntyre, F. Jensen, and C. Davidson
1991 Risk Perception Mapping: Using Ethnography To Define The Locally Affected Population For A Low-Level Radioactive Waste Storage Facility in Michigan. American Anthropologist 93(3): 611-635.

Stoffle, R. W., ed.
1990 Cultural and Paleontological Effects of Siting a Low-Level Radioactive Waste Storage Facility in Michigan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research.

Stoffle, R. W., M. Traugott, J. Stone, P. McIntyre, C. Davidson, F. Jensen, and G. Coover
1990 Social Assessment of Siting a Low-Level Radioactive Waste Storage Facility in Michigan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research.

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