Nuclear waste disposal: can government cope?

by Jackie L. Braitman

Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback208 pages $45.00 $36.00 20% Web Discount

With the passage of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, the policy debate surrounding nuclear waste management shifted from broad issues of problem definition to the question of "how" to implement the provisions of the Act. Among the more important implementation questions is whether the Department of Energy (DOE) can develop the management capabilities necessary to establish waste repositories. This research examines the organizational capabilities required to site noxious facilities in the face of public opposition, and the ability of private companies and executive agencies of the federal government, such as the DOE, to develop requisite siting capabilities. The analysis draws on two cases: the DOE programs to dispose of high-level nuclear wastes, and the program of a large oil company to site petrochemical plants. The research suggests that neither a federal agency nor a private corporation can be expected to succeed in developing the necessary management capabilities. A hybrid organization must be designed in order to increase the chances of succeeding at this difficult task.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.