This study investigates lay people's reactions to a repository for nuclear waste. Risk perception is seen as a complex concept, comprising both affective and cognitive components. Attitude towards nuclear power and trust in experts and authorities had a substantial impact on risk perception, while personal knowledge about nuclear waste disposal had no effect. Thus, the more positive one's attitude towards nuclear power is and the more trust one has in experts and authorities, the lower one's risk perception is. Also, reactions were expected to vary with distance between the home district and the location of a repository. These variations differed in nature for people with alternative levels of risk judgement. The distance between the home and a repository affected approval of the proposed site. Distance between home and repository also had an effect on risk feelings and somewhat less on beliefs about consequences. Estimated total risk was directly mediated by beliefs about consequences, but even more so by risk feelings. With regard to risk, one can conclude that it is important to make a distinction between an emotional and a cognitive component of risk perception.