Using a model of risk perception which divides the community into attitudinal and behavioural subgroups based on awareness, concern and action in relation to a waste management facility, we conducted a survey in a community with an operating landfill and a ten-year history of controversy over the unsuccessful siting of a hazardous waste facility (HWF). The purpose of the survey was to study community attitudes to waste management in general, attitudes specific to landfills and HWFs, and to identify factors which shape community attitudes in both cases. Levels of concern and activism were lower for the landfill; activism and concern were more likely among younger subjects and those with children. In the case of the HWF, greater concern and activism were more likely among married people and those without a university education. Gender differences in relation to environmental "concern" were not found for either the landfill or the HWF siting attempts.
Three cross-sectional surveys were conducted in different regions of British Columbia, using a model of risk perception that divides the community into attitudinal and behavioral subgroups based on awareness and concern about waste management facilities. The three communities differed with respect to their levels of both awareness and concern about facilities, either planned for or situated in their region. Surprisingly, the most polarized community, which had nevertheless accepted a facility, rated this facility as more desirable than the other two communities. The unconcerned group in this community felt well informed, was more trusting of siting and operating agencies, and believed that the facility would generate benefits. The concerned group in this community also felt better informed, was more trusting of siting and operating agencies, and believed that its facility would generate benefits, compared with concerned groups in the other two communities. Longitudinal studies of the attitudes driving the siting process are needed to understand how these relationships evolve over time.
Using a community model of risk perception, we conducted an environmental risk perception survey in a community with an operating municipal solid waste incinerator to further understanding of community responses to technology perceived as "hazardous". The specific aims of the survey were to study attitudes to waste management (incineration in particular) and to identify sociological attributes which help shape community attitudes to the facility. Approximately one third of the community were unaware of the incinerator. Those unaware gave lower desirability ratings to incinerator technology than the aware group. About half of the aware group were concerned about the facility and rated the incinerator in the same way as those who were unaware; however, the remainder (the unconcerned) appear to have accepted the incinerator. The results of this cross-sectional study suggest that informing the public about technology perceived as hazardous may not lead to alarm, but may in fact increase acceptance.