Gaining a Social License to Operate (SLO) for Radioactive Waste

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Disposal of radioactive waste remains a contentious issue around the world. Many would argue that it is almost impossible to gain a social license to operate (SLO) for the disposal of such a waste product. However, in light of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and the challenge of decarbonizing the world’s energy supply, nuclear power with its low carbon and baseload appeal, has the potential to provide significant input into the transition.

The discussion will share practical socio-psychological approaches to science and technology acceptance and their application to radioactive waste, investigate issues of procedural and distributive fairness, trust and perceptions of risk and benefits and implications of the socio-technical implications for policy and industry.

**Professor Peta Ashworth, Chair of Sustainable Energy Futures at the School of Chemical Engineering, University of Queensland

Peta Ashworth is an Australian social scientist who has been researching public attitudes to climate change and energy technologies for the past 15 years. She is particularly interested in developing processes for dialogue for new energy projects and integrating science and technology in society. She has been co-chair for the Australian Department of Industry’s Radioactive Waste Management Project and was part of the science advisory team for the Northern Territory’s Science Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing. Prior to this, Peta worked at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) where she led the research group Science into Society Group (SISG).

**Cindy Vestergaard, Director of Stimson’s Nuclear Safeguards Program (Moderator)

Cindy Vestergaard is the Director of Nuclear Safeguards at the Stimson Center. Her current research focuses on the impact of evolving international safeguards obligations on states and facility operators, from the ‘starting point’ of safeguards to nuclear waste disposal. Her portfolio also includes chemical weapons disarmament, biosecurity and import/export controls. Before joining Stimson in 2016, Vestergaard was a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) in Copenhagen, Denmark. Prior to DIIS, she worked on non-proliferation, aPrms control and disarmament policy and programming at Canada’s foreign ministry.


The Stimson Center
1211 Connecticut Avenue NW, 8th Floor
Washington D.C.

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