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8 Stakeholder Reactions and Involvement PAST USNRC EFFORTS AT STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT This chapter reviews recent past and current efforts by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) to involve stakeholders in decision-making processes relevant to clearance standards for slightly radioactive solid material (SRSM). Three efforts by the USNRC to promote public involvement are par- ticularly important and are discussed next: (1) the below regulatory concern (BRC) policy in the early 1990s, (2) the License Termination Rule (1992-1997), and (3) the 1999 issues paper that initiated a regulatory process for release of SRSM. The chapter then presents basic principles that the USNRC can follow to avoid past mistakes and involve its stakeholders more effectively. The Below Regulatory Concern Effort The BRC policy was intended to cover four basic clearance standards: (1) clearance of licensed facilities containing residual radioactivity after license ter- mination; (2) distribution of consumer products containing small amounts of radioactivity; (3) disposal of solid wastes containing very low levels of radioac- tivity; and (4) recycling or reuse of solid materials containing very low levels of radioactivity (USNRC, l991b). As noted in Chapter 2, promulgation of the BRC policy began in 1990 with a series of public meetings in which comments were obtained from various stakeholders (USNRC, 1991a). However, this public in- volvement process polarized as it progressed. Four of eight environmental and consumer groups that had been actively involved in the initial meetings refused to 136

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STAKEHOLDER REACTIONS AND INVOLVEMENT 137 discuss entering a consensus-building process because of the conditions set forth for entering into the process. These four organizations had been among the stake- holder groups most actively engaged in BRC issues. Strong stakeholder opposition ultimately prompted the USNRC to defer ac- tion on petitions submitted by licensees for BRC exemptions (56 Federal Register 21631; May 10, 1991~. The USNRC began an open, consensus-building process to clarify differences among affected parties and to work toward resolution of issues. However, the USNRC imposed two critical conditions on groups partici- pating in the process. First, representatives from all parties who previously had a major interest in the BRC policy as determined by the USNRC were required to participate in a "core group." Second, all parties were required to agree to defer action on other avenues of relief (legislative, legal, or administrative) (USNRC, l991d). These conditions and the general distrust engendered by the process resulted in continued boycott by certain groups. A letter from the Natural Re- sources Defense Council declining to participate was particularly persuasive in terminating the BRC process (NRDC, 1991~. The License Termination Rule Following the withdrawal of the BRC policy, the USNRC decided to focus on issuing in conjunction with an enhanced public participation process a rule governing the clearance of facilities containing residual radioactivity (USNRC, 1992~. The agency solicited input through a series of public workshops designed to identify issues, areas of concern, and disagreement. In addition, the normal notice and comment process was initiated. An initial draft rule was circulated by the USNRC staff along with public comments from the workshops on February 2, 1994 (59 Federal Register 4868~. The additional comments on this initial rule were considered in the report to the Commission recommending a proposed rule for publication (USNRC, 1994~. The Commission was to hear the final rule after another round of public comment in early May of 1995. The report to the Commission gave special attention to three categories of comments critical of the initial draft proposed rule (USNRC, 1994~: Comments that questioned the technical basis of the draft rule's 3 mrem/ yr goal and 15 mrem/yr limit for individual dose; Suggestions by several licensees, industry groups, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the 3 mrem/yr goal be dropped because it would become a de facto limit; and Comments indicating a need for greater guidance on demonstrating com- pliance with the rule's provisions. The proposed rule (59 Federal Register 43200-43232; August 22, 1994) was published by the USNRC after considering the outcome of the workshops, the

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138 THE DISPOSITION DILEMMA National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) scoping results, and the comments on the initial draft rule. The proposed rule dropped the 3 mrem/yr goal and retained the 15 mrem/yr standard. It retained the site-specific advisory boards that had been in the draft and endorsed the need for additional guidance on how the rule should be applied and enforced. With publication of the proposed rule, the USNRC should have been able to conclude a successful public participation process. However, subsequent USNRC actions fundamentally undercut the consensus that had been achieved, further alienating many of those who had participated. The USNRC had announced an extension of the comment period for the proposed rule to January 20, 1995 (59 Federal Register 63733; December 9,1994~. Then on August 7,1995, the USNRC announced (60 Federal Register 40117) an extension of the schedule for the final rule until early 1996 "to allow the NRC to more fully consider public comments received on the technical basis." That announcement of schedule extension noted the USNRC's intention to hold a public meeting in September 1995 to address specific issues and included the separate views of one commissioner questioning the adequacy of the technical basis for selecting a dose criterion of 15 mrem in contrast to 25 or 30 mrem. A letter dated September 25, 1995, from 10 environ- mental and consumer organizations objected to the "Commission's current move to hold a single workshop in Washington, D.C., to discuss a [new] proposal, . . . a possible 35 mr/yr clean-up standard [that] would substantially relax the final rule and is contrary to all of the remarks and comments [from the 1993 workshops]." The letter also charged that among other issues, "public comments in those ses- sions were a mandate for the most radiologically protective standard possible." The letter's authors asserted that the proposed rule was no longer adequate (Mariotte et al., 1995~. Separately, the EPA objected to raising the standard from 15 mrem/yr to 25 or 30 mrem/yr because the higher limits would not adequately protect public health and the environment (EPA, 1997d). Contrary to the consensus that had emerged from the extensive public pro- cess, the final rule (62 Federal Register 39058-39092; July 17, 1997) contained a 25 mrem/yr cleanup standard. It dropped the requirement for establishing site- specific advisory boards, substituting only broad performance criteria for obtain- ing such advice. The 1999 Issues Paper and Current Stakeholder Involvement Efforts The stated intention of the USNRC's June 1999 Federal Register notice (64 Federal Register 35090-35100; June 30,1999) entitled "Release of Solid Materi- als at Licensed Facilities: Issues Paper, Scoping Process for Environmental Is- sues and Notice of Public Meetings" (the "1999 issues paper") was to initiate another "enhanced participatory process" for a proposed rule on clearance of SRSM (USNRC, 2000a). The 1999 issues paper established essentially three alternative actions (USNRC, 2000d, Attachment 1~:

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STAKEHOLDER REACTIONS AND INVOLVEMENT 139 1. Do not conduct a rulemaking and proceed by continuing with current case-by-case practices. 2. Do not conduct a rulemaking and proceed by exploring options for updat- ing existing guidance to improve consistency of criteria. 3. Conduct a rulemaking to develop a proposed rule. If the third alternative, to proceed with rulemaking, were to be adopted, three technical approaches would be explored: 1. Permit release of solid material for unrestricted use if doses to the public from releases are less than a specified level. 2. Restrict release of materials to only certain authorized uses. 3. Prohibit release of material from areas where radioactive material has been stored otherwise allow clearance. AS in previous efforts, the process centered around a series of public meet- ings. At these meetings, the USNRC once again asked environmental and con- sumer groups and other stakeholders to participate in a process that many of them had severely criticized and still doubted had been adequately reformed. This skepticism led some national environmental and consumer advocacy groups to boycott the public meetings intended to consider the issue of clearance of SRSM from USNRC-licensed facilities. Nevertheless, the USNRC received more than 900 comment letters. The significant public concern expressed in these comments, combined with the boycott of the meetings, prompted the USNRC to hold an additional public meeting, conducted by the Commission and attended by representatives of a variety of stakeholder groups, including some that had boycotted earlier meetings (USNRC, 2000c). Summaries of the stakeholder comments and oral statements from meetings on the 1999 issues paper are contained in a staff report to the USNRC (USNRC, 2000c) and in a consultant's report (USNRC, 2000d). Both sources provide the reader with some sense of the range of views expressed on the 1999 issues paper. However, they contain little detail about the number of comments in each cat- egory, the number of comments received that do not fall into the categories, or the intensity of the views expressed. The following analysis is the committee's at- tempt to fill in some of these details and fathom the extent and depth of reactions to the proposed alternatives. This analysis illustrates some key themes that the committee found in the diverse, sometimes conflicting, views of various stake- holders. It does not cover all of the groups that expressed opinions at the meet- ings, nor does it cover all possible opinions and options. For more detailed coverage, see Appendix F to this report, as well as the consultant's report on the meetings (USNRC, 2000d). The positions expressed by stakeholder groups regarding the 1999 issues

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140 THE DISPOSITION DILEMMA paper typically were similar to the positions articulated by the same groups during the BRC policy debate. Some of the strongly critical groups expressed views that certain policy options contained in the 1999 issues paper presented even greater risks than did the BRC policy. Their concern was that the Depart- ment of Energy (DOE), which they perceived as having large volumes of SRSM, was likely to handle that material in accordance with the USNRC approach to SRSM clearance. Table 8-1 indicates the preferred alternatives for a number of stakeholder groups. The range of positions articulated is illustrated by the following list of stated views: . Preclude any release of contaminated materials from regulatory control. Continue the USNRC's case-by-case process. Promulgate a conditional clearance standard (e.g., landfill disposal). Promulgate a clearance standard. Delay decision until a process is established for arriving at a consensus. The alternatives presented in the issues paper represented in Table 8-1 by the "Do Not Conduct a Rulemaking" and "Conduct a Rulemaking" columns do not capture the full spectrum of alternatives favored by stakeholder groups. For ex- ample, many of the environmental and consumer groups that expressed an opin- ion criticized the USNRC for failure to include a "no release" alternative (see columns for "Other" in Table 8-1~. Three major themes emerged from the committee's analysis of the complete range of stakeholder views expressed in response to the 1999 issues paper: Theme 1. There is little support from stakeholder groups for a clearance standard for SRSM. Although agreement states and the nuclear industry favor some form of clearance standard, many consumer and environmen- tal groups and certain affected industry organizations do not. Environ- mental groups expressed concern about risks to human health from clear- ance. The metals and concrete industries expressed concern that the presence of radioactive materials in their products would negatively af- fect their sales due to public fear. The metals industry also feared an economic impact if public confidence were decreased in the safety of steel products. Theme 2. There is a legacy of institutional distrust of the USNRC by some of its stakeholder groups, particularly the environmental and consumer advocacy groups. The three regulatory events described above have con- tributed to this distrust of USNRC by certain stakeholder groups. Other reasons, based on stakeholders' perceptions that may or may not have a basis in fact, are evident in the public comments received by the USNRC

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STAKEHOLDER REACTIONS AND INVOLVEMENT 141 and this committee. Among the factors that undermine trust are the fol- lowing: The USNRC and the DOE are perceived as not having fully disclosed the risks and uncertainties associated with establishing a clearance standard. The perception is that the true purpose of establishing a clearance stan- dard is to provide regulatory cover for DOE's efforts to recycle radio- active materials.] The USNRC is perceived to have focused almost exclusively on eco- nomic benefits rather than protecting human health and the environ- ment. The perception that the USNRC lacks the capacity to regulate the imple- mentation of a clearance standard effectively. The perception that USNRC's public participation process is imple- mented mechanically, with little or no commitment to comprehending and addressing stakeholder concerns. Appendix F illustrates several of these perceptions in depth, categorizing them with respect to the views of particular groups. . Theme 3. Numerous stakeholders are unclear about the meaning or im- port of certain technical terms and issues. Among the sources of confu- sion are the panoply of radiation control units of measure (e.g., sieverts, rems, becquerels) and technical distinctions such as those between sur- face contamination and volume (or volumetric) contamination, between (unconditional) clearance and conditional clearance, or between exclu- sions and exemptions. Summary of Stakeholder Views In summary, the committee's review of the record on the BRC policy, the License Termination Rule, and the 1999 issues paper found that many stakehold- ers distrust the USNRC and remain confused about important technical ques- tions. There are misperceptions about intentions on both sides, and the USNRC has not been effective in its risk communication. There is also no consensus evident among stakeholder groups about the options for regulating disposal of SRSM. The USNRC must overcome serious levels of distrust, generated by its actions during the BRC policy and License Termination Rule efforts, before the 1For a brief account of circumstances cited by some groups to support this strongly negative perception, see the section below on "DOE Recycling of SRSM: The Oak Ridge Project."

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142 TABLE 8-1 Matrix of Stakeholder Perspectives THE DISPOSITION DILEMMA Do Not Conduct a Conduct a Rulemaking Rulemaking Stakeholder Continue Case by Case Release for Unrestricted Use (Clearance) Nuclear Information and Resource Service Public Citizen New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution Allied Industrial Chemical and Energy Workers Union Natural Resources Defense Council Steel Manufacturers Association American Iron and Steel Institute National Ready- Mixed Concrete Association Metals Industry Recycling Coalition Association of Radioactive Metal Recyclers Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety, representing 49 Statesb Health Physics Society American Nuclear Society Nuclear Energy Institute Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors xd xd xd xd aAuthorized use includes both licensed (nuclear) use and unlicensed use (landfills, bridge supports). bMore specifically, representing the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors and the Organization of Agreement States. CThese groups want to continue case by case but with uniform national criteria. dGroup expressed view that some special exceptions might apply, i.e., for metals industry.

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STAKEHOLDER REACTIONS AND INVOLVEMENT 143 Other Restrict Release to Certain Authorized Uses (Conditional Clearance)a No Release (No Option Specified, But Want the Solid Waste Isolated from General Commerce) Cannot Engage in Dialogue Because Dialogue Process Is Tainted Recommend Delaying Decision on a Rule Until Stakeholder Views Are Integrated with USNRC Decision Framework X X X X X X X X X X X X X

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44 THE DISPOSITION DILEMMA expanded public participation process associated with the 1999 issues paper is likely to succeed. RISK COMMUNICATION AND ITS ROLE IN THE RULEMAKING PROCESS Approaches for effective risk communication have become highly sophisti- cated over the past 10 to 15 years. A study committee of the National Research Council has defined risk communication as follows (NRC, 1989, p. 21~: [A]n interactive process of exchange of information and opinion among indi- viduals, groups and institutions. It involves multiple messages about the nature of risk and other messages, not strictly about risk, that express concerns, opin- ions, or reactions to risk messages or to legal and institutional arrangements for risk management. According to this definition, risk communication is a reciprocal process, not an attempt by an agency to "sell" its program to the public. If decisions are not negotiable, then the agency should not waste stakeholders' time (Omenn, 1997, p. 18~. The approach must embody the principle, articulated by Thomas Jefferson, that there is "no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion" (Jefferson, 1820~. Risk communication succeeds when it pro- motes a deeper understanding of the issues and satisfies individuals involved that they are adequately informed within the limits of available knowledge and that their views have been fairly considered. Further, the concept of risk communication is consistent with federal laws on open government, which were meant to promote public participation in agency decision making. Among these laws are the Administrative Procedures Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Government in the Sunshine Act, the Na- tional Environmental Policy Act, and the Freedom of Information Act. Communicating the risks and benefits of a clearance standard to the public is challenging because of both the fears associated with radiation and the technical nature of the issues. The USNRC has successfully engaged in risk communica- tion in limited contexts, such as the initial public participation process during development of the License Termination Rule. The USNRC's inability to follow through on the 1994 consensus is an equally compelling example of poor risk management and communication. The results of these errors and others during the BRC policy effort have included a stalemate on SRSM clearance and disposal issues, as well as increased distrust of the USNRC. The USNRC through a series of studies it commissioned and finished in 1999, has been made fully aware of the "state of the art" in using risk communi- cation with both the public and decision makers. If the USNRC implements the

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STAKEHOLDER REACTIONS AND INVOLVEMENT 145 information contained in the reports, their efforts will be better informed than past work that employed, but did not follow through with, participatory processes and risk communication. Interestingly, the commissioned studies view sharing power and empowering the public in decision-making processes as a critical function of risk communication with the public and a crucial step in building trust or credibility, deeming it the "ultimate solution to situations of [existing] dis- trust" (Bier, 1999a, l999b). Stakeholders' Distrust and Deficiencies in the USNRC Process The USNRC's request for stakeholder input should, in principle, be accept- able as an honest effort to respect and consider all stakeholder views. For a variety of reasons discussed above, many stakeholder groups do not view it this way. Many of the stakeholder groups that boycotted the initial workshops on the most recent reconsideration of the SRSM issue expressed skepticism that the USNRC was substantively considering and responding to their views and ex- pressed concern that USNRC had not solicited their input prior to publishing the 1999 issues paper. These concerns are not directed toward scientific or technical issues but to issues of process. The USNRC maintains the final responsibility for any rule or change in policy, but within its statutory limitations there is a great deal of latitude for involving stakeholders. Legitimacy can be achieved only through fostering trust in the agency's integrity, fairness, honesty, and competence (Pijawka and Mushkatel, 1992~. If the process appears to be biased, if the communications are one-sided and technically obscure, or if uncertainties are disregarded, many stake- holders will view both the process and the outcome as illegitimate. When this occurs, groups seek other avenues, such as the courts or Congress, through which to be heard. DOE Recycling of SRSM: The Oak Ridge Project Stakeholders' concerns on the clearance issue have been influenced by their experience with DOE projects, as well as by their experience directly with the USNRC. A DOE plan to recycle approximately 100,000 tons of nickel and steel removed from the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, re- sulted in the erosion of stakeholder trust. DOE proposed to remove and recycle the metals without completing an environmental impact statement despite the size and novelty of the project. Moreover, a report by a National Research Coun- cil committee had previously recommended that public participation and support were critical to any such effort (NRC, 1996~. Yet, the DOE project was initiated with essentially no public review or involvement, and regulatory approval to clear radioactively contaminated materials through an agreement state-licensed facility was conducted with no public process.

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146 THE DISPOSITION DILEMMA Environmental groups' concerns were confirmed when a contractor for the project, BNFL, was found to have an inadequate training program for employees, a deficient procurement system, problems in laboratory quality control, and sev- eral important violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration stan- dards. The DOE Inspector General confirmed these problems in a September 2000 report (DOE, 2000~. The Inspector General also found that BNFL's surveys of contaminated materials were not conducted accurately, that employees were not adequately supervised, and that these problems posed an increased risk to the public (DOE, 2000, p. 2~. One of BNFL's partners on the Oak Ridge project was Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), with whom the USNRC had also contracted to perform the technical analysis for NUREG-1640. In November 1999, the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical, and Energy Workers International Union, which represents hourly workers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, charged that the SAIC contract violated federal conflict-of-interest regulations precluding con- tractors from conducting work for the government that could benefit a private- sector client. In December 1999 the USNRC issued a stop-work order to SAIC, and in March 2000 it terminated the SAIC contract. In July 2001, DOE announced plans to perform a Programmatic Environ- mental Impact Statement on scrap metal disposition, recycling, and clearance across its complex. SAIC was the contractor initially selected to undertake this work (Inside NRC, 2001~. DOE canceled the SAIC contract on July 25, 2001, after environmental groups and an influential member of Congress raised con- cerns about possible bias stemming from SAIC's earlier involvement as a sub- contractor to B NFL in the nickel recycling project (Zuckerbrod, 2001~. Hence, DOE's approach to the K-25 metals recycling, the subsequent prob- lems with one DOE contractor for that project, and the links between that con- tractor and a second DOE contractor have further undermined the USNRC's credibility with some stakeholders. These stakeholders suggest that the two agen- cies are collaborating behind the scenes (i.e., "conspiring") to establish standards allowing clearance of SRSM. The Importance of Trust In the literature on public involvement, institutional trust is widely viewed as the single most important factor influencing the acceptance of controversial gov- ernment policies (Raynor and Cantor, 1987; Flynn et al., 1992; Pijawka and Mushkatel, 1992~. Trust is often characterized as a collection of attributes, such as honesty, fairness, integrity, competence, and consistency (DOE, 1993b). Re- search studies indicate that individuals accept higher levels of risk, or perceive risk as being lower, if they trust the agency setting the policy. The agency, however, must be perceived as honestly presenting the level of risk associated with the policy and as having the competence to evaluate the risks.

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STAKEHOLDER REACTIONS AND INVOLVEMENT 147 When an agency does not address issues consistently or is shown to have misinformed the public, stakeholder mistrust develops. By contrast, the more transparent a decision-making process is, the more likely are stakeholders to perceive the agency as having nothing to hide. The USNRC has lost the trust and confidence of some of its important stakeholder groups. It now must either work to regain their trust or continue to contend with an increasingly adversarial rela- tionship. Some encouragement can be gleaned from studies showing that al- though trust is easy to lose and difficult to regain, it can be rebuilt through a concerted and sustained effort (Kasperson et al., 1988~. The USNRC will have regained trust when it has significant participation by a broad base of stakehold- ers in its rulemaking process. STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT: METHODS AND SUCCESSES The USNRC has had limited success in obtaining meaningful stakeholder involvement. Even so, determining the proper strategy or process to increase effective public participation and rebuild the trust of stakeholder groups will be difficult. Various types of dispute resolution techniques that may be appropriate at steps along the way include unassisted procedures or third-party assistance, including facilitation, mediation, fact finding, and nonbinding arbitration. Some authorities have found partnering techniques to be successful in avoiding dis- putes (Creighton and Priscoli, 1996~. Formalized public involvement, such as the workshops that the USNRC has conducted recently, is designed to give stakeholders an opportunity to be heard prior to a decision and to involve them in the framing of problems and solutions. Approaches such as facilitation, fact finding, mediation, and nonbinding arbitra- tion allow stakeholders to participate in the evaluation of alternatives, impacts, and proposed decisions (see Figure 8-1~. Some forms of dispute resolution are designed to require stakeholders' approval before a final decision is made (Creighton and Priscoli, 1996~. Some determinations must be made before selecting and moving forward with any of these methods or techniques for public participation. In particular, it is critically important that the agency and the stakeholders both believe that they can benefit from the process whether it is a public consensus-building process or an alternative dispute resolution approach. That is, the entities must believe that the outcome is more likely to be favorable to them if they participate in the joint process rather than remain outside it.2 When this belief is lacking on either side, these processes are not appropriate. If the agency is bound legally to one option or if the agency does not believe that stakeholder involvement is important and worthwhile, these methods should not be employed. 2Janesse Brewer, the Keystone Center, presentation to the committee, June 27, 2001.

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148 UNASSISTED PROCEDURES THE DISPOSITION DILEMMA Information Exchange Meetings Interest- Based Negotiation Increased Structure j Formality THIRD - PARTY ASSISTANCE Facilitation Disputes Non- Media~don Fact- Review Binding Fi ding Board Arbitration _ Substance Form of Third-Party Assistance THIRD - PARTY DECISION MAKING DISPUTE PREVENTION Binding Arbitration . Administrative Litigation Hearings Increased Structure/T~me Partnering FIGURE 8-1 Dispute resolution techniques. SOURCE: Creighton and Priscoli (1996, p. 24~. An agency can gain several benefits from using public involvement strate- gies appropriately. These benefits include not only building legitimacy for deci- sions but also gaining new information and perspectives. The affected public may gain new information and perspectives as well, and the process can keep all constituencies better informed. However, if parties on either side are not acting in good faith, such methods may do more harm than good. Both the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USAGE) have exten- sive alternative dispute resolution programs that have received widespread atten- tion (Creighton and Priscoli, 1996~. The EPA has published for review a draft plan for public involvement (EPA, 2000~. The U.S. Army has successfully used a dialogue process designed by the Keystone Center to gain public acceptance of an alternative technology for the destruction of chemical weapons. The USACE and the Department of Defense are using partnering approaches extensively to

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STAKEHOLDER REACTIONS AND INVOLVEMENT 149 minimize disputes. The DOE, which has used site-specific advisory boards ex- tensively, has recently retained a public involvement consulting firm (Creighton and Creighton) to design materials for its public involvement processes. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has conducted an extensive review of its public involve- ment programs and is revising them. No single approach is best for all situations or for all agencies. Much de- pends on an agency's true goals. If the USNRC truly believes that it is important and worthwhile to involve stakeholders, then it should assess the willingness of stakeholder groups to begin a dialogue. This dialogue will have to address not only items contained in the 1999 issues paper but also issues that some stake- holder groups claim have been omitted. The assessment should address stake- holder views about desirable and feasible mechanisms for obtaining sustained stakeholder input into (1) how issues should be framed and (2) how decision processes can be made transparent and open. This assessment should be viewed as just the first step toward rebuilding the credibility of the agency and beginning to reestablish trust by stakeholders. In addition, it is critical that the dialogue clearly spells out up front what flexibility the USNRC has in responding to specific stakeholder concerns and where it feels it is statutorily precluded from taking action. This delineation of where action is feasible will allow stakeholders both to know they can have some influence and to determine if this amount of influence on the outcome is sufficient to justify their participation in the process. In order to increase the belief of stakeholder groups that their input matters, it is vital that the USNRC provide ongoing feedback as to how the agency is utilizing the input from the dialogue group. Feedback should include both the identifica- tion of when and how input affected decisions and the reasons input did not have an effect. The USNRC, like many other federal agencies, has tended to rely on a small and closed circle of contractors for certain services. Although a tight circle of support contractors may simplify procurement of specialized technical services, it fosters negative perceptions, by those outside the circle, of the openness and fairness of the process. These perceptions often underlie and reinforce beliefs that USNRC contractors are not adequately trained, have not exercised credible ef- forts to meet safety and quality standards, and often represent too closely the interests and perspectives of the regulated industry. As noted, other agencies have adopted innovative and far-reaching ap- proaches to public involvement, alternative dispute resolution, and consensus building. The USNRC should reach out to the contractors that have been involved in these programs for the EPA, the Army (including the USACE3 and the chemi- cal weapons demilitarization programs), and other agencies. 3The alternative dispute resolution handbook developed for the USACE (Creighton and Priscoli, 996).

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150 THE DISPOSITION DILEMMA FINDINGS Finding 8.1. The USNRC involved stakeholders in the processes for the BRC policy and the License Termination Rule for decommissioning, as well as in the initial stages of considering standards for release of SRSM. Despite these efforts, environmental and consumer advocacy groups remain concerned with radiation effects, and industrial groups continue to be concerned with the potential eco- nomic consequences of the clearance of SRSM. Finding 8.2. Most of the issues of concern to those stakeholder groups that oppose the USNRC's recent efforts to establish a rule for the release of SRSM are the same issues expressed by these groups 10 years ago during the effort to establish the BRC policy. The committee's review of the record on the BRC policy, the License Termination Rule, and the 1999 issues paper found that stakeholders distrust the USNRC and remain confused about important technical questions. There are misperceptions about intentions on both sides, and the USNRC has not been effective in its risk communication. Finding 8.3. Stakeholder groups differed in their viewpoints on regulating dispo- sition of SRSM. Generally, professional societies associated with the nuclear industry supported clearance, industrial groups endorsed conditional clearance, and environmental groups opposed any type of clearance. However, much of the opposition to a clearance standard was associated with recycling metal SRSM into general commerce. Finding 8.4. A legacy of distrust of the USNRC has developed among most of the environmental stakeholder groups. This distrust results from their experience with the BRC policy, the License Termination Rule, and the 1999 issues paper on the release of SRSM. Reestablishing trust will require concerted and sustained effort by the USNRC, premised on a belief that stakeholder involvement will be important and worthwhile, as well as a prerequisite for making progress.