Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Communities near nuclear power plants are at potential risk from natural and man-made failures at the nuclear power plants located within those communities. This study explored the concerns and rationalizations of residents of a community who live within a 10-mile evacuation zone of the nuclear power plant located there. Using the general theory of deliberative democracy, the purpose of this qualitative study was to understand and explore why individuals continue to live close to nuclear power plants. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 15 individuals who live within a 10- mile radius of a nuclear power plant in the western US. These interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed using a modified Van Kaam procedure. Findings indicated that members of the community had concerns that natural or man-made disasters could lead to catastrophic failure of the nuclear power plant but rationalized living in proximity. Another key finding was that the community itself was supported by the revenue generated from the plant which led many of the participants to live in the community and this contributed to their rationalizing for why they should live close to the plant. The social change implications of this study included recommendations to mayors, city councils, and regulatory bodies to provide more information about nuclear power plants to communities to help them cope with fear and feelings of helplessness. Residents living near nuclear power plants would benefit from the recommendations made in this study because it would help them understand the risks of living near nuclear power plants.