Nuclear risk management on stage: a decision analysis perspective on the UK's committee on radioactive waste management

Alec Morton, Mara Airoldi, Lawrence D Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


In 2003, the UK government set up a broad-based Committee on radioactive waste management (CoRWM) to look at the UK's policy on radioactive waste management with a view to jumpstarting a stalled policy process. The committee's brief was to come up with a set of recommendations that would protect the public and the environment, and be capable of inspiring public confidence. After consulting widely with the public and stakeholders, and drawing on advice from scientists and other experts, CoRWM arrived at a remarkably well-received set of recommendations. On the basis of our experiences of working on CoRWM's multi-criteria decision analysis of different management options, study of CoRWM documentation, and interviews with committee members, we describe the explicit and implicit principles that guided CoRWM. We also give an account of the process by which CoRWM arrived at its conclusions, covering four phases: framing, shortlisting, option assessment, and integration; and four cross-cutting activities: public and stakeholder engagement (PSE), science and engineering input, ethics and social science input, and learning from overseas practice. We finish by outlining some of the key developments in the UK's radioactive waste management process, which followed on from the publication of CoRWM's report, and present our reflections for the benefit of the risk and decision analysts of future committees that, like CoRWM, are charged with recommending to government on the management of technically complex and risky technologies, drawing on extensive public and stakeholder consultation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764–779
Number of pages16
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number5
Early online date28 Jan 2009
Publication statusPublished - May 2009


  • CoRWM
  • nuclear risk management
  • Committee on Radioactive Waste Management
  • decision analysis


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