As the closed circle of policy-makers, regulators and risk managers is opened to admit the voices and concerns of those anonymous publics whose lives and localities are touched by the presence of environmental impacts and risks, new and challenging issues are forced onto the policy agenda. The debate about sustainability has broadened to include questions of quality of life and wellbeing. Alongside the calculability of technological risks and their socio-economic consequences there is, therefore, a need to understand and attend to the less tangible impacts for people living in the shadow of major industrial facilities. While considerable attention has been given to patterns of public risk perception, much of this work has approached risk in a way that is disassociated from the varied and complex contexts in which risks and hazards are experienced on an everyday basis. This is problematic, this chapter argues, because the context within which risk-producing technologies are situated may be as, if not more, important than the assessed risk in shaping local understandings of, and responses to, personal or community threat (Fitchen et al, 1987). Risky technologies are ‘differentially constructed and consumed’ (Irwin et al, 2001) within multidimensional contexts – cultural, economic, political, social, historical, geographical – creating a complex matrix of meanings in which technical representations of risk play only a small part.