Citizen Views of Transporting Radioactive Waste in Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, and New Mexico

Ann S. Oakes
Mark K. Mcbeth

DOI: 10.2190/8DNE-43TM-1C1F-16AT


The proposed opening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico has generated a flurry of studies that examine public perceptions of the hazards involved in transporting radioactive waste to that site. Presently, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, and New Mexico are most affected by the potential WIPP opening and future shipments of wastes. This study synthesizes the findings of independent surveys among residents in those states regarding their concerns. Five topics are commonly measured: trust, safety of highway shipments, moving waste versus maintaining the present temporary storage, risk perceptions, and economic impact. People in the four states report high levels of trust for scientists and low levels for federal officials. of the four populations, Idahoans are most likely to support moving the waste. Respondents agreed that traffic accidents are likely but this is also true of shipping other cargo such as toxic chemicals. Residents in New Mexico and Colorado perceive the greatest economic gains while Oregonians think that transporting radioactive waste will have adverse effects in their state. These findings will assist public officials in making decisions regarding the eventual shipments. Suggestions for public officials are included.

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