Amchitka Island: Melding Science and Stakeholders to Achieve Solutions for a Former Department of Energy Site

  • Joanna BurgerEmail author
  • Michael Gochfeld
  • Charles W. Powers
  • David S. Kosson


Traditional scientific research proceeds from development of a hypothesis, through data gathering to final conclusions, and without much input from stakeholders. This chapter proposes that the melding of scientists and stakeholders throughout the process can reduce conflicts and lead to acceptable solutions for problems that are inherently complex and have eluded resolution. We use the closure of the Department of Energy’s Amchitka Island, where three underground nuclear tests were conducted from 1965 to 1971, as a case study to illustrate how stakeholders can be included as participants throughout the process, leading to acceptance and incorporation of the science, and a path forward. Success was dependent upon interactions to stimulate relevant science investigations, in a participatory process. Without such inclusion, well-intended policies and practices may be ineffective and may not lead to a solution, particularly to such difficult problems as closure of chemical and radioactive waste sites, and the handling of civilian and military nuclear wastes in the future, both of which influence the future of nuclear energy in the United States.


Nuclear Waste Stakeholder Involvement Primary Stakeholder Science Plan Radionuclide Analysis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the many people who participated throughout this process, including scientists, managers, regulators, environmentalists, and the general public. Special thanks goes to L. Bliss, M. Greenberg, and B. Friedlander who were critical throughout the process, to the following from the primary stakeholders: Anne Morkill and Gregory Siekaniek (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service), John Halverson (DEC, State of Alaska), Pete Sanders (U.S. DOE), Robert Patrick (APIA), and the people in the villages of Adak, Atka, Nikolski and Unalaska in the Aleutian Chain. This research was funded by the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP) through a grant from DOE (DE-FG 26-00NT 40938) to Vanderbilt University and Rutgers University. JB and MG were also partially supported by NIEHS ESO 5022, Wildlife Trust, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC-38-07-502M02). The results, conclusions, and interpretations reported herein are the sole responsibility of the authors, and should not in any way be interpreted as representing the views of the funding agencies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna Burger
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael Gochfeld
    • 2
  • Charles W. Powers
    • 3
  • David S. Kosson
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of Life SciencesEnvironmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP), and Rutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  2. 2.Environmental and Occupational MedicineEOHSI, Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP), and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolPiscatawayUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringConsortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP), Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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