Multinational nuclear waste repositories: ethics and acceptability

The safe disposal of nuclear waste is a challenge to humanity. While nuclear waste disposal was previously a national responsibility, countries are now considering multinational repositories. This raises new and intricate ethical issues. Like for many other major technological projects, a gap exists between assessing acceptance and acceptability. Public acceptance studies fail to include all the morally relevant features of technological projects, while ethical acceptability analyses often lack stakeholders’ insights.


This research aims to develop a novel framework to integrate ethical analysis and stakeholders’ opinions about multinational repositories. My ethical analysis will build upon the Wide Reflective Equilibrium that facilitates incorporating particular moral judgements and moral principles. To systematically map stakeholders’ opinions, I will use Q‐methodology, which allows for investigating trade‐offs (e.g. between short‐term and long‐term interests). I will conduct stakeholder interviews in Slovenia, Denmark and the Netherlands, three countries that consider both national and international disposal. Together with policymakers from the IAEA and ten EU countries, I will spell out the implications of this analysis when choosing a host country.


In this Veni research I will address the fundamental issue of ethical acceptability for multinational repositories, by integrating empirical insights and ethical analysis. The proposed approach enables reflecting upon the empirical findings from the perspective of theories on justice and ethics of risk, while enriching the ethical risk theory by stakeholders’ opinions. This is a novel approach in ‘ethics of technology’ and its relevance will extend far beyond multinational repositories; i.e. new technologies for combating climate change such as geoengineering raise similar transnational and intergenerational ethical issues.


VENI-grant for innovational research from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

Related Scientific publications (selection)


  • Taebi, B. Forthcoming. Bridging the gap between social acceptance and ethical acceptability. Risk Analysis. available online


  • Taebi, B. and I. R. Van de Poel, eds. 2015. Socio-technical challenges of nuclear power production and waste disposal in the post-Fukushima Era. Special Issue of Journal of Risk Research 18 (3): 267-405. available online
  • Taebi, B. and I. R. Van de Poel. 2015. Socio-technical challenges of nuclear power production and waste disposal in the post-Fukushima Era. Editors' overview. Journal of Risk Research 18 (3): 267-272. available online
  • Taebi, B. and J. L. Kloosterman. 2015. Design for values in nuclear technology. In Handbook of Ethics, Values, and Technological Design: Sources, Theory, Values and Application Domains, edited by J. van den Hoven, P. Vermaas and I. Van de Poel. Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media: 805-829 available online
  • Taebi, B. and S. Roeser, eds. 2015. The Ethics of Nuclear Energy: Risk, Justice and Democracy in the post-Fukushima Era. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. available online


  • Taebi, B., A. Correljé, E. Cuppen, M. Dignum and U. Pesch. 2014. Responsible innovation and an endorsement of public values: the need for interdisciplinary research. Journal of Responsible Innovation 1 (1): 118-124. available online


  • Taebi, B. 2013. Moral dilemmas of uranium and thorium fuel cycles. In Social and Ethical Aspects of Radiation Risk Management, edited by D. Oughton and S. O. Hansson. Amsterdam: Elsevier: 259-280.

Related Professional/Popular publications


  • Araújo, K. and B. Taebi. Where Should Nuclear Waste be Dumped? The National Interest, 26 May, 2015. available online
  • Taebi, B. and M. Mayer. The Russian Nuclear Energy Proposal: An Offer You Can't Refuse. The Huffington Post, 5 June, 2015. available online


  • Taebi, B. Nuclear Summit in Holland Neglects Crucial Security Issues, The Huffington Post, 28 March 2014. available online


  • Taebi, B. Key 'Missing' Debate Over Future of Nuclear Energy Is Waste Storage, The Huffington Post, 26 September 2013. available online
  • Taebi, B. Multinational repositories can address nuclear waste stockpile,, 25 November 2013. available online


  • Awarded


Research Theme