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Ethics and Technology
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Ethics and Technology


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Multinational nuclear waste repositories

Ethics and acceptability
January until December 2018

The safe disposal of nuclear waste is a challenge to humanity. While nuclear waste disposal was previously a national responsibility, countries are now considering multinational repositories. This raises new and intricate ethical issues. Like for many other major technological projects, a gap exists between assessing acceptance and acceptability. Public acceptance studies fail to include all the morally relevant features of technological projects, while ethical acceptability analyses often lack stakeholdersā€™ insights.

This research aims to develop a novel framework to integrate ethical analysis and stakeholdersā€™ opinions about multinational repositories. My ethical analysis will build upon the Wide Reflective Equilibrium that facilitates incorporating particular moral judgements and moral principles. To systematically map stakeholdersā€™ opinions, I will use Qā€methodology, which allows for investigating tradeā€offs (e.g. between shortā€term and longā€term interests). I will conduct stakeholder interviews in Slovenia, Denmark and the Netherlands, three countries that consider both national and international disposal. Together with policymakers from the IAEA and ten EU countries, I will spell out the implications of this analysis when choosing a host country.

In this Veni research I will address the fundamental issue of ethical acceptability for multinational repositories, by integrating empirical insights and ethical analysis. The proposed approach enables reflecting upon the empirical findings from the perspective of theories on justice and ethics of risk, while enriching the ethical risk theory by stakeholdersā€™ opinions. This is a novel approach in ā€˜ethics of technologyā€™ and its relevance will extend far beyond multinational repositories; i.e. new technologies for combating climate change such as geoengineering raise similar transnational and intergenerational ethical issues.

More information can be found here.


VENI-grant for innovational research from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).