The public is becoming increasingly distrustful of hazardous waste management activities. However, public trust is a requisite condition for effective environmental management of hazardous waste sites. Without trust, it is unlikely that such institutions can effectively convince the public that a site is safe and can be reused. The authors of this article conducted a study of the social, economic, psychological, demographic, and political factors that may affect environmental risk assessment and communication at the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Nuclear Weapons Site (SRS). Public trust was a central focus of this study. A population survey was conducted to evaluate the level of public mistrust and correlates of public mistrust among residents living near the SRS. In this sample, several groups of respondents demonstrated high levels of trust. Respondents living upriver from SRS and respondents whose county was economically dependent on SRS voiced high levels of trust. Respondents who were predisposed toward accepting additional hazardous waste or accepting public health risks for economic gain also showed high levels of trust. Findings suggest that public trust is influenced by a variety of factors including personal traits, experiences, and economic needs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)