«IAEA-TECDOC-1553 Low and Intermediate Level Waste Repositories: Socioeconomic Aspects and Public Involvement Proceedings of a workshop held in ...»
4.4 Conferences and seminars A number of conferences and seminars oriented toward nuclear issues are held annually in Slovakia. This has helped to spread new approaches and build a friendly atmosphere within the nuclear sector. A conference is usually a highly-structured programme of presentations and discussions, and it will usually have panel discussions followed by questions. Top officials or panels of recognized experts help boost interest in attendance. Conferences often have plenary sessions attended by all participants, followed by breakout sessions. Elected officials or VIP persons add credibility to the process by being on the programme to discuss their hopes for the project. Most conferences are organized together with Slovak Nuclear Society and Slovak Nuclear Forum (member of EURATOM). Conferences and seminars have
several common characteristics:
⎯ are special events, publicized separately from other events;
⎯ highlight specific aspects of issues;
⎯ are applied in either planning or project development;
⎯ set the stage for plans or projects;
⎯ showcase and refine specific aspects of plans or projects;
⎯ provide focus and direction to participants; and ⎯ often require advance registration or are invitational.
4.5 Public opinion surveys
Public opinion surveys assess widespread public opinion via a written questionnaire or through interviews in personal contact, by phone, or by electronic media. The limited sample of people is considered representative of a larger group. Survey results show public positions or reactions to certain actions and gather information for use in the process. Surveys can test whether opinions are changing, if repeated after an interval of time. Several surveys of this type have been performed in Slovakia recently. They clearly showed that people are interested in getting more details about RAW, and independent experts including IAEA are the most reliable source of this information.
5. MAIN FEATURES OF PUBLIC INVOLVEMENTThe following chapter comprises lessons learned and recommendations on how to perform successful public involvement programmes for a RAW disposal facility.
5.1 Information Opinion surveys about the public attitude to nuclear power indicate that people feel that there is both a lack of information and a need to receive more. The transfer of information plays an essential part in the establishment of public trust in any new development. However, it is not sufficient, and indeed it may be contra-productive, to saturate the public with large amounts of material which is not properly focused and which they have no knowledge or the education to understand.
Contact between representatives of the waste management organization and the public is the next most essential component of the process. This contact should be ideally through informal, small group meetings. There is evidence that formal presentations and large open meetings are not particularly good methods of communicating because they tend to discourage interaction with the majority of the public and, in the case of open meetings, are generally monopolized by committed opponents. An effective communication can be described as bilateral flow of information. One issue is important – watch the responses from the public and adapt the speech to these responses.
5.3 Participation Research in many areas of risk acceptance has shown that people are more willing to accept risk if it is controllable. This means that they have a choice to be, or not to be, engaged in the risk activities, or they have some power to modify, reduce or eliminate the risk. It means that a community is more likely to accept the construction of a new facility if the people in that community have some influence and control over the process of introducing it. In several countries, communities have a right to reject proposals for the siting of new radioactive waste management facilities, either through a requirement for such communities to be volunteers or through a right of veto. Increasingly in the field of radioactive waste management, participation extends beyond simple involvement into the decision making process.
As mentioned earlier, in several countries local communities have a right to reject proposals for the siting of new facilities. At first sight, such a policy may appear likely to fail because that right will always be used against the construction of the facility. However, that assumption fails to recognize that one of the main reasons for opposing a development is the inability to control it. If the risk can be accepted voluntarily, and on terms to be agreed by those who feel worry, then the likelihood of acceptance is enhanced. There is evidence that public involvement is more likely to be successful where either the community has volunteered or the people have the right to reject the facility.
The issue of compensation to host communities is a complex and sensitive one. The concept of compensation can include support to local schools, improvement of infrastructure etc.
However, as for the siting of radioactive waste facilities, great care is needed. The main danger lies in an offer of compensation being viewed as a confirmation of a risk. For this reason, the issue of benefits to the local community should be given a lower importance in comparison with information and consultation activities. Indeed, the local public will likely
wish to consider the question of compensation after they are satisfied:
⎯ that there are valid reasons for choosing their locality;
⎯ that all safety issues are under adequate control;
⎯ that the environmental impact will be minimized; and ⎯ that they will have a reasonable degree of control in the affairs of the facility.
Most importantly, financial and other benefits should be seen as reasonable re-compensation to the community for loss of comfort, in line with common business practice, but not for accepting a risk. This is a very reasonable baseline for providing compensation, since there may be real local losses associated with reductions in property values, in agricultural efficiency and, in some areas, in tourist routes.
6. CONCLUSIONS Successful PR programmes for RAW disposal facilities can be characterized by three
⎯ an open and transparent decision making process, ⎯ participation of various interested groups at both the local and national level, ⎯ a consistent political will to find a solution and make necessary decisions.
The waste agencies have a very important role to play here. That is why the establishment of the radioactive waste agency in our country is considered to be helpful from this point of view. The works mentioned earlier showed, that getting public acceptance in RAW management is necessarily a long process. It is much longer than the typical term of office of most decision makers. A stable regulatory framework, including a well established and independent regulatory body, is an important source of continuity in these circumstances and an important condition for getting public acceptance.
Integral communication activities in support of the repository site selection in Slovenia N. Železnik, M. Kralj Agency for Radwaste Management ARAO, Ljubljana, Slovenia Abstract The siting and licensing of a radioactive waste repository requires a complete public consensus that is very difficult to obtain. The main reasons for the public reluctance to accept the radioactive waste repository are the feeling of being ignored in the decision making process and inadequate understanding of radioactivity. Therefore communication and information activities, as early as possible in the siting process, are very important for reducing the potential conflicts of interests between the local community and the investor of the radioactive waste repository on the potential repository sites. ARAO communication activities are based on research on public opinion and public knowledge about radioactive waste management. Communication strategies that provide two-way communication channels, such as interactive web pages, workshops, study circles, visitors' centre, are preferred. Different educational materials (leaflets, CD-ROMs, articles in the local newspapers, yearly magazine, and posters) are also being produced. Collaboration with nongovernmental environmental organizations has also proved to be helpful in confidence building, as well as in informing the public.
It is also very important for establishing competent public participation in the decision making process.
Slovenia is one of the rare countries in the world that does not have a disposal facility for any type of radioactive waste. At present the operational waste from the only nuclear power plant (NPP) in Krško is stored in storage facilities at the NPP site, while low and intermediate level waste (LILW) from all other producers (medicine, industry and research activities) is stored at the Research Reactor Centre near Ljubljana in the Central Interim Storage (CIS) facility. The current storage capacities are limited and will soon run out, which is especially true for the LILW storage at Krško.
In 1991 the Agency for Radwaste Management (ARAO) was founded by the Slovenian Government to provide conditions for final disposal of all radioactive waste. The first site selection for the LILW repository, performed in 1990 – 1993 using a technical approach with 43 obligatory criteria, failed. The detailed analysis showed that the main reason for the failure of the siting project was inadequate public participation .
In the new site selection procedure a so called “mixed mode” approach to the site selection was chosen and was issued in Strategy of Spatial Development in 2004 (Off.Gaz. RS 76/2004). This approach is a combination of technical screening and volunteer siting. In addition to the cabinet investigations and rough technical screening of the territory in the preselection phase, in later stages the mixed mode approach incorporates strong public involvement and the negotiations with the local communities identified in the previous stage . Only if the negotiations are successful, and further steps agreed with the local community, can the first phase be followed by more detailed research including field investigations to assess the suitability of the potential location.
2. ACTIVITIES ON THE SITE SELECTIONRepository siting is taking place according to the mixed mode procedure which follows the IAEA recommendations . It combines the expert assessments and local initiatives and
proposals. The mixed mode procedure is divided into four stages:
(1) Conceptual and planning stage: this was concluded in 1999; the siting procedure incorporating public participation was defined;
(2) Area survey stage: identification of potentially suitable areas was concluded in 2001 and a map was presented to the public; identification of potentially suitable sites was concluded in 2005, and the sites were agreed upon with the local communities after their volunteering to the site selection process;
(3) Site characterization stage: this will be concluded in 2007; maximum three potential locations will be studied, additional cabinet and field research will provide the necessary data for the site confirmation, and the research will be carried out with the local community consensus;
(4) Site confirmation stage: this will run in parallel with the previous stage; the suitability of the potential locations will be evaluated and additional data for safety analysis and environmental impact assessment will be provided by further research with consensus of the local community.
In 2001, the area survey stage was performed by cabinet investigations using the multi-criteria decision making evaluation programme within a Geographic Information System. The most important were related to the integrity and safety of the repository, which were then evaluated through study of the geological properties of an area. The results showed that about 15% of Slovenian territory is potentially suitable for underground disposal and almost 45% for surface disposal .
The most difficult step is the identification of potentially suitable sites, which requires extensive communication and negotiations with the local communities at the area of interest.
In February 2002, ARAO has decided to invite the local communities to participate through an independent mediator, representing a link between the two parties and thus facilitating the communication and negotiations between the investor and the local community. The mediator represents the connection between public interests in local environmental protection and the governmental interests to safely dispose of the radioactive waste.
The real negotiations with the local communities have started with the legal basis for financial compensations to the hosting community, which were accepted through the Decree on criteria for the determination of the compensation level due to the limited land-use on the site of a nuclear facility in December 2003 (Off.Gaz. RS 134/2003). The decree defines the fixed compensation of 2.3 million EUR due to the limited land-use to the local community who would host the LILW repository during its operation, and 1/10 of that amount for field investigations and the repository construction.
In November 2004, the official administrative procedure for the siting of the repository was set. The Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning together with ARAO carried out the First Spatial Planning conference. The Programme for the preparation of the national location plan for the LILW repository was accepted, and ARAO invited all local communities in Slovenia to volunteer a site or area for further investigation. Applications had to be signed by mayors only.