Masters Theses


Wendy Bigham

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Mark Littmann

Committee Members

Bonnie Riechert, Sherry Cable


This is a case study of risk communication, specifically the risk perceptions of residents living within one mile of the Flura Corporation Superfund Site, a shut-down chemical manufacturing and storage facility in Newport, Tennessee. It explores citizens' perceptions of the efforts by Flura and later the Environmental Protection Agency in their efforts to educate the community about the risk situation. This study examines whether Peter Sandman's model of community outrage that involves the process of communication of risk is valid in the case of the Newport community's reaction to this hazardous waste site. Methods involve interviewing residents living near the Superfund site, local officials, local newspaper editors and reporters, and EPA representatives; examining the local newspapers' accounts of the risk situation; reviewing correspondence of the Tennessee departments of environment with Flura and with the previous owners of Rock Hill Laboratory; and attending meetings convened by the EPA to inform the Newport public about the risks of the Flura Superfund Site and their efforts to clean it up.

Results showed that most residents trusted the information from EPA and did not argue on scientific points. They were just glad that EPA had taken over the site and promised to clean it up no matter how long was required. More support for the agency responsiveness factor of community outrage was shown than support for the knowability factor.

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