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- The Current Status and Effects of Proactive Communication on Accident Risks and Emergency Preparedness in the Context of Nuclear Power Stations
- Oshita, Tsuyoshi
- Electronic Theses & Dissertations
This dissertation focuses on emergency preparedness communication, which is defined as communication efforts and activities to inform the public of accident risks and emergency response plans before a large-scale accident occurs. Emergency preparedness communication is essential in reducing accident damage. However, organizations have tended to ignore emergency preparedness communication because of the assumption that such communication would harm public confidence in their risk-generating...
Show moreThis dissertation focuses on emergency preparedness communication, which is defined as communication efforts and activities to inform the public of accident risks and emergency response plans before a large-scale accident occurs. Emergency preparedness communication is essential in reducing accident damage. However, organizations have tended to ignore emergency preparedness communication because of the assumption that such communication would harm public confidence in their risk-generating activities. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear accident in 2011 is one example of organizations ignoring emergency preparedness communication. The purpose of this dissertation is two-fold: (1) to examine the current status of emergency preparedness communication at nuclear power plants in the United States and (2) to investigate the effects of emergency preparedness communication on people's perceptions and attitudes toward nuclear plants. To achieve these goals, this project conducted two separate studies.First, the current study conducted a content analysis using the websites of all nuclear power plants in the U.S. and discussed how emergency preparedness communication was conducted and what messages were communicated in online media. The results showed that most websites provided information on emergency preparedness, but that emergency preparedness was emphasized less than other types of information. Nuclear power plants in the U.S. tended to emphasize information on the benefits of nuclear power, rather than on emergency preparedness.Second, this study employed an experiment to examine how communicating accident risks and emergency preparedness would affect people's perceptions and attitudes toward nuclear plants. The experiment created fictional nuclear power plant websites that delivered different messages as stimuli. The study compared the control condition, which gave respondents only general information on the nuclear plant, to the emergency preparedness communication condition, in which respondents were provided information on emergency response planning. The experiment yielded mixed findings. Information on emergency preparedness increased negative feelings and decreased positive feelings. However, the information concurrently enhanced the perception that the plant was honest. The information also increased the perception that the plant was caring when respondents thought that they were familiar with nuclear power. The author formulated a model that included those perceptions and emotions to predict people's willingness to accept a nuclear plant at local and general levels. This dissertation contributes to the field of risk and crisis communication by advancing discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of informing the public of accident risks and emergency preparedness. The study reveals understanding of nuclear power plants' provision of information as well as the public perception of emergency preparedness information. Emergency preparedness communication does not increase or decrease the level of support for nuclear power plants. However, emergency preparedness communication changes the public's reasoning for acceptance of the plants, shifting their acceptance from an emotional-based to trust-based reaction. As a practical implication, this study recommends that nuclear power plants in the U.S. communicate accident risks and response plans more openly and proactively to achieve public trust in the nuclear industry.