Governmental Role-Play:

Radwaste I


Tod Loofbourrow, Lawrence Susskind, Denise Madigan and Wendy Rundle

Seven-party, multi-issue, scoreable negotiation among regulatory, environmental, tribal, local government, and industry representatives to choose criteria for selecting a low-level radioactive waste disposal site


Please note: you must order a copy (a.k.a. license/usage fee) for every person participating in the simulation in your course. This simulation has multiple roles, so you will be unable to complete your purchase without meeting the minimum quantity requirement of copies per role.

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You may order this role simulation in either soft copy (electronic) or hard copy (paper) format. If you select the soft copy option, you will receive an e-mail with a URL (website address) from which you may download an electronic file in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. You will have one week to download your materials from when you receive the email. You are then only authorized to use, print, or share the materials as many times as the number of copies you purchase. The TNRC charges for use of this simulation on a per-participant basis. Therefore, you must purchase a separate copy of this simulation for each person who will be participating, regardless of the number of roles in the simulation. You will only receive a link to one electronic file, which includes all general instructions, confidential instructions, and any teaching notes for the simulation. You should separate out the instructions before distributing to participants.

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To order multiple copies of a role simulation for use in a course or workshop, simply enter the total number of participants in the box next to “Quantity.” There is no need to calculate how many of each role is required.

If you are ordering hard copies, the Teaching Negotiation Resource Center will calculate the appropriate numbers of each role to provide, based on the total number of participants. For example, if you wish to order a 2-party role simulation for use with a class of 30 students, you would enter “30” in the box next to “Quantity.” You then would receive 15 copies of one role and 15 copies of the other role, for use with your 30 participants. As another example, if you ordered 30 participant copies of a 6-party role simulation, you would receive 5 copies of each role.

In the event that the number of participant copies you order is not evenly divisible by the number of roles in the simulation, you will receive extra copies of one or more roles. Participants receiving the extra roles may partner with other participants playing the same role, thus negotiating as a team. So, for instance, if you ordered 31 copies of a 2-party role simulation, you would receive 15 copies of the first role and 16 copies of the second role. One of the participants playing the second role would partner with another participant playing that same role, and the two would negotiate as a team.

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For bulk orders, we offer the following pricing discounts. Please note that these only apply to bulk orders of the same simulation.

  • Between 100-250 copies – 10% discount
  • Between 251-500 copies – 25% discount
  • More than 500 copies – 50% discount
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The state is required by federal law to site a low-level radioactive waste (LLW) disposal facility within a year. The State Regulatory Agency responsible for siting the facility must develop a set of criteria. This agency is empowered to decide the criteria on its own, but would prefer to have these negotiated by parties specifically concerned about this issue of low-level radioactive waste. Seven stakeholder groups have an interest in the negotiation. If at least five of the seven agree to a set of ten siting criteria, these criteria will be adopted by the State Agency. In the absence of an agreement, the State will promulgate its own criteria. The seven parties include: a State Management Authority responsible for operating the facility; the Indian Tribal Council; a moderate environmental coalition; a more radical coalition of environmental and anti-nuclear activists; the Municipal and County Governments' Association; the Radioactive Waste Generators' Association; and the Governor's Blue-Ribbon Panel of Science and Economic Advisors.



The exercise is best played with 7 people (1 per role), although 14 people (2 per role) works. A game manager is needed to conduct periodic votes and to answer questions.


Estimated Time Requirements:

Exercise instructions require at least 30 minutes to read. The negotiation requries at least 1-1/2 hours; more time is preferable. At least 30 minutes should be set aside for the debrief.



  • Benefits of a simultaneous iteration: When the game is played by several groups at the same time, the comparison of outcomes is instructive. The players can explore how and why different negotiating strategies lead to different outcomes. Typically, some groups will reach agreement and some will not. Very few groups will reach unanimous (7-way) agreement.
  • Pre-negotiation analysis: The importance of pre-negotiation analysis in evaluating options is illustrated. This game using stylized 'points' to indicate how desirable a particular option is.
  • Coalitions: This simulation provides an instructive context for exploring coalition strategies. Multi-issue, multi-party negotiations tend to involve the formation of coalitions; especially blocking coalitions.
  • Disclosure issues: Parties that reveal their true interests may or may not do better than those who remain silent or bluff. The advantages and disadvantages of revealing all of one's interests are illustrated in this negotiation.
  • Pareto-curve: Pareto-superior and Pareto-inferior agreements can be examined as illustrated by the scores.
  • Internal vs. External dynamics: When 14 players play the game (2 per role), they have an opportunity to explore the sepcial difficulties of simultaneous "internal" and "external" negotiations.
  • Importance of neutrals: The need for a neutral "process manager" of some sort is illustrated as the parties struggle to structure their discussions.
  • Impact of Caucusing: The advantages and disadvantages of caucusing can be explored. In some cases, players will initiate caucusing; in others, they will avoid private caucusing.
  • Science-intensive issues: The special qualities of environmental disputes are evident particularly the importance of scientific and ideological considerations.



For all parties:

  • General Information


Role Specific:

Confidential instructions for the

  • Governor's Blue Ribbon Committee
  • Environmental Coalition
  • Public Management Authority
  • Association of Radwaste Generators
  • Green Wave
  • State Association of Municipal and County Governments Federated Indian Tribal Council


Teacher's package:

  • All of the above
  • Detailed Teaching Notes



Agenda control; Authority; BATNA; Bluffing; Caucusing; Coalitions; Commitment; Communication; Competition v. Cooperation; Constituents; Currently perceived choice analysis; Delay tactics; Environmental disputes; Facility siting; Group process; Information exchange; Issue control; Joint gains; Linkage; Low level radioactive waste; Managing uncertainty; Media; Mediation; Meeting design; Monolithic vs. non-monolithic parties; Multi-party negotiation; Native American negotiation; Objective criteria; Offers, first; Pareto optimization; Political constraints, dealing with; Preparation; Pressure tactics; Regulated policy negotiation; Reservation price; Science-intensive policy disputes; Systems of negotiation; Time constraints; Utility analysis



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Radwaste I Attributes

Time required: 2-3 hours
Number of participants: 7
Teams involved: No
Agent present: None
Neutral third party present: None
Scoreable: Yes
Teaching notes available: Yes
Non-English version available: Italian