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An inquiry of the opinions of the French and Belgian populations as regards risk

, : An inquiry of the opinions of the French and Belgian populations as regards risk. Journal of Hazardous Materials 111(1-3): 21-27

IRSN (France) and SCK-CEN (Belgium), two institutes of research and expertise in radiation protection and nuclear safety, simultaneously organised a very similar public opinion survey in their respective countries in November 2002. The study explores subjects such as: major people's concerns, perception of environmental risks, perception of risks in general, the role of experts in decision making, opinions on nuclear matters and aspects of nuclear emergency preparedness. In each country, more than 1000 citizens representing the general public have been consulted in face-to-face interviews. The field work has been performed by professional companies (BVA in France and Research International in Belgium). The paper shows that industrial and technological risks are not perceived as one of the major public concerns, although many other risks, of different nature are considered to be high. The actions of the authorities to provide protection against the consequences of many risks or disasters are not considered to be sufficient, and many respondents claim not to believe the information they receive. There exists a large difference between the opinion of French and Belgian public, and within the different language groups in Belgium, with regard to who should be in charge of the control of the hazardous industries. Many of the "actors" within the nuclear industry are not known by the respondents. The perception of the technical competence or the truth being told shows large variations between the main actors (such as members of the nuclear industry, the government or the media). Majorities within the population believe that a disaster as serious as the Chernobyl one can happen in their country and that in case of a nuclear accident, the authorities would not be capable to protect the population adequately.


PMID: 15231344

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2004.02.004

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