Disowning Fukushima: Managing the credibility of nuclear reliability assessment in the wake of disaster

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Abstract

This paper reflects on the credibility of nuclear risk assessment in the wake of 2011 Fukushima meltdowns. In democraIc states, policymaking around nuclear energy has long been premised on an understanding that experts can objecIvely and accurately calculate the probability of catastrophic accidents. Yet the Fukushima disaster lends credence to the substanIal body of social science research that suggests such calculaIons are fundamentally unworkable. Nevertheless, the credibility of these assessments appears to have survived the disaster, just as it has resisted the evidence of previous nuclear accidents. This paper looks at why. It argues that public narraIves of the Fukushima disaster invariably frame it in ways that allow risk-assessment experts to ‘disown’ it. It concludes that although these narraIves are both rhetorically compelling and highly consequenIal to the governance of nuclear power, they are not enIrely credible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-309
Number of pages25
JournalRegulation and Governance
Volume8
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jul 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014

Keywords

  • Fukushima
  • Risk Assessment
  • Disaster
  • Nuclear industry

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