The Legacy of Nuclear Power and What Should Be Done About It

Peripheral Communities and the Management of the Nuclear Legacy
  • Andrew BlowersEmail author
Part of the Energiepolitik und Klimaschutz. Energy Policy and Climate Protection book series (EPKS)


Nuclear’s legacy from its civil and military programmes is concentrated in ‘nuclear oases’, places of nuclear risk that are peripheral, in terms of their remoteness, economic marginality and political powerlessness. By a process of ‘peripheralisation’ whereby nuclear activities are pulled towards existing locations and repelled elsewhere, these places are reproduced and reinforced as landscapes of risk extending over space and time. Geological disposal is the accepted method of managing the legacy of nuclear wastes but it is proving difficult to find sites that are scientifically or socially acceptable. So, for the foreseeable future, clean up and safe storage are the pressing and pragmatic solutions.

The problem of dealing with the nuclear legacy in its peripheral locations is complex and will take time but the size of the inventory is known and its management is unavoidable. But it would be premature to claim that a permanent solution for legacy wastes has been found, let alone for wastes arising from nuclear new build. Creating more wastes is avoidable, its legacy unknowable and it would impose unmanageable burdens on peripheral communities far into the future. For the present and foreseeable future the practical and ethical approach is to take a continuing responsibility by managing the legacy through clean up and storage, keeping it accessible and taking remedial action when necessary.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beck, U. (1992). Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity, London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  2. Blowers, A., Lowry, D. and Solomon, B. (1991). The International Politics of Nuclear Waste, London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blowers, A. (1999). Nuclear waste and landscapes of risk. In: Landscape Research, 24(3), 241-264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blowers, A. (2017). The Legacy of Nuclear Power, Oxford: Earthscan from Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Blowers, A. and Leroy, P. (1994). Power, politics and environmental inequality: a theoretical and empirical analysis of the process of “peripheralisation”. In: Environmental Politics, 3(2) Summer, 197-228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bradley, D. (1998). Behind the Nuclear Curtain: Radioactive Waste Management in the Former Soviet Union, Columbus, Ohio: Battelle Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, K. (2013). Plutopia, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. CoRWM [Committee on Radioactive Waste Management] (2006). Managing our Radioactive Waste Safely: CoRWM’s Recommendations to Government, London: CoRWM, November.Google Scholar
  9. CoRWM (2007). Ethics and Decision Making for Radioactive Waste, CoRWM, February.Google Scholar
  10. Crenson, M. (1971). The Un-Politics of Air Pollution: A Study of Non-Decisionmaking in the Cities, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press.Google Scholar
  11. DECC [Department of Energy and Climate Change] (2011). National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power Generation (EN-6), Vol.II, Annexes, October.Google Scholar
  12. IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] (1995). The Principles of Radioactive Waste Management, Safety Series No. 111-F, Vienna.Google Scholar
  13. Jonas, H. (1984)The Imperative of Responsibility, Chicago, University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  14. Kommentus (2001). Responsibility, Equity and Credibility – Ethical Dilemmas Relating to Radioactive Waste, Stockholm: Kommentus Forlag.Google Scholar
  15. Pearce, F. (2016). Zone of Secrets, In: New Scientist, 10 December, 36-39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Perrow, C. (1999). Normal Accidents: Living with High Risk Technologies, Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (1976). Nuclear Power and the Environment, Sixth Report, Cmnd 6618, HMSO, London (The Flowers Report).Google Scholar
  18. Shulman, S. (1992). The Threat at Home: Confronting the Toxic Legacy of the US Military, Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  19. Sovacool, B. (2011). Contesting the Future of Nuclear Power, Singapore: World Scientific.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Open UniversityMilton KeynesUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations