Keywords: geological disposal, confidence building, communication tools, nuclear waste, natural analogue, radioactive waste, nuclear safety, health risks, waste dispoal, waste storage
Integration of natural analogue studies within a national confidence-building programme
It is now commonly recognised that public acceptance is one of the key factors influencing the feasibility of nuclear waste repositories – or indeed, any major industrial or technical developments. The general antipathy against anything 'radioactive' is further compounded by the difficulty of developing a simple, transparent safety case for a facility deep underground that clearly shows that there is no health risk at any time in the future. Natural analogues have great potential as communication tools within such a safety case. The analogue programme must, however, be embedded in an integrated communication strategy that identifies the key concerns of different critical groups and identifies the most appropriate way to address them. Some of the important characteristics of such a strategy include: demonstration of high levels of competence, openness and honesty of involved organisations (both regulators and implementers); ensuring consistency of policy, procedures and utilisation of technical arguments; recognition of the importance of reacting to feedback from all involved parties.