Impact of public policy and societal risk perception on U.S. civilian nuclear power plant construction

Timothy R.B. Taylor, David N. Ford, Kenneth F. Reinschmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Due to the increasing demand for energy in the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is currently reviewing permit applications for 26 new nuclear power reactors. However, the previous generation of U.S. civilian nuclear plant construction experienced significant cost and schedule overruns. Previous research identified "regulatory ratcheting" (continuous, retroactive change in nuclear plant regulations) as one of the primary causes of this poor performance. Regulatory ratcheting was enabled by the nuclear industry's two-step permitting and licensing process for civilian power plant construction, which allowed society's perception of the risks associated with nuclear plant operation to impact nuclear plant construction. How will public policy and societal risk perception affect the next generation of U.S. civilian nuclear plant construction? This question is investigated using a dynamic simulation model of the public policy and social feedback processes that impact U.S. nuclear plant construction. The research reveals that proposed strategies to address public policy and societal issues, such as a new nuclear regulatory process and smaller, less expensive reactors, may not prevent cost and schedule overruns on the planned next generation of nuclear plants. Results point to the critical role societal perceptions of nuclear power risk play in nuclear construction project success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)972-981
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Construction Engineering and Management
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2012


  • Dynamic models
  • Nuclear reactors
  • Public policy
  • Risk management
  • Simulation models
  • System analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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