Mundane Decay: Investigating mundane decay of nuclear infrastructure

The Mundec research project examines a type of infrastructure that is both costly to maintain and extremely difficult to dismantle: nuclear power plants. It adopts an original perspective by focusing on a particular phenomenon in the life of infrastructure: its mundane decay and its management. Mundane decay, in this project, is defined as the set of changes that occur continuously and normally in the materiality of nuclear infrastructures. Mundec proposes to study these material transformations and the related policy decisions and socio-technical practices, ranging from maintenance when infrastructures wear out and deteriorate to decommissioning when it is decided to scrap them.
The objective of this project is to understand the processes of routine decommissioning of nuclear infrastructures by (1) analysing in depth the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant in four European countries that are diverse in terms of nuclear policy, share of nuclear energy in the electricity production mix, age and status of nuclear facilities: Belgium, France, and Austria; (2) making a qualitative comparison of these cases.
During two years, Martin Denoun and Céline Parotte will carry out a case study comparison of French, Austrian and Belgian nuclear infrastructures. They will carry out an in-depth empirical investigation on several nuclear power plants in order to establish the different types of maintenance and/or decommissioning practices that are designed and implemented.
Research design
The project develops a multi-method research design (document and discourse analysis, field observation, interviews) for comparative analysis. It is based on two integrated and complementary empirical steps.
- Step 1/ In each selected country, an in-depth empirical study of a nuclear power plant will be conducted to establish the different types of maintenance practices that are designed and implemented.
- Step 2/ The results of step 1 will be used as a guide to explore cross-national variations. Firstly, a comparative framework will be established to highlight the heterogeneity, diversity and cultural embeddedness of plant management and maintenance practices.
Funding: Uliege PDR-SH - Sectoral Research Funding in Social Sciences.
updated on 3/16/23

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