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RISKGOV Report Summary

Project ID: FIKR-CT-2001-00168
Funded under: FP5-EAECTP C
Country: France

Comparative analysis of risk governance for radiological and chemical discharges of industrial installations

The objective of the RISKGOV Project is to analyse and identify quality criteria for the governance of industrial activities giving rise to risks to people and the environment from radioactive and chemical discharges during normal operations.

For this purpose, RISKGOV aims at:
- Analysing and comparing the elements contributing to the quality of governance systems associated with environmental discharges from nuclear and chemical installations;
- Providing a series of criteria to assess the quality of the governance of risk activities.

In total, 8 case studies were conducted, covering radioactive and chemical releases related to local and international contexts and referring to innovative risk governance processes in France, Sweden and the United Kingdom:
- The role of local liaison committees with regard to the management of discharges of installations:
- France: Local liaison committee of the Gravelines Nuclear Power Plant
- Sweden: Local liaison committees of the Barsebäck Nuclear Power Plant and the Rohm and Hass Chemical installation
- The dialogue process during the preparation of reauthorisation of radioactive discharges:
- France: COGEMA-La Hague facility
- United-Kingdom: Devonport Royal Dockyard
- Management of air quality around the industrial site of Etang de Berre in France
- Implementation of the OSPAR Convention for chemical and radioactive releases
- The abandonment of the Brent Spar offshore platform

The analysis was performed by a multidisciplinary research team and based notably on interviews with key stakeholders directly involved in these innovative risk governance processes.

The following dimensions were addressed:
- The guiding principles of the decision-making process;
- The role of expertise;
- The stakeholders involvement process;
- The factors integrated into the decision-framing and decision-taking processes;
- The implementation of decisions and their review.

RISKGOV seeks to identify from its case studies examples of practices that can be emulated elsewhere as well as pitfalls and tension points from which positive lessons can equally be learned. The case studies show there are many ways of reflecting the themes and elements identified as important in a risk governance process. A global scheme can however be drawn from the case study analysis: following the initiation of the process, the process elements (inclusiveness of participation and of issues; collective and mutual learning) are seen as vital components that must be dealt with from the outset. Insofar as these are successfully implemented, they are seen to support the emergence of a governance culture that is well adapted to deal with complex problems, respond to forthcoming issues and meet societal expectations regarding the governance of risk issues.

The fact that the overall process is concerned with learning and adaptation to emergent issues means that evaluation is a vital component, which provides feedback about its success and/or the need for improvement. This allows for the re-initiation of the process, and its’ understanding as iterative, adaptive and evolving rather than as linear and deterministic. Insofar as a risk governance process operates in this way, the proposed scheme suggests that there is a higher probability of achieving or at least moving closer to the objectives of trust and confidence, acceptance and acceptability of decisions and sustainable development.

In order to test and hopefully improve the elaborated scheme in the context of new risk governance processes, a self-evaluation tool has been developed, which is included in the final report. Finally, it has to be notice that this empirical analysis of the risk governance process can also contribute to the debate about governance at the theoretical level.

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