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«IAEA-TECDOC-1553 Low and Intermediate Level Waste Repositories: Socioeconomic Aspects and Public Involvement Proceedings of a workshop held in ...»

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By the beginning of April 2005, ARAO finished the bidding process with eight applications from local communities. Within the next two months three local communities had decided to withdraw their applications. Only one of the remaining five local communities proposed an appointed potential site for further investigation. In the others, the potential sites were defined by cabinet studies and presented to local communities for confirmation. Only the potentially suitable sites confirmed by local communities were further assessed in the pre-feasibility study [5]. This provided the assessment of all sites based on public acceptability, passive safety, technical functionality, economics, environmental and spatial aspects.

The methodology for the assessment of public acceptability included factors that could influence social aspects of the life of individuals (subjective parameters) and the people’s attitudes in the whole local community (objective parameters). The only exclusion parameter in public acceptability was the eventual rejection of participation in the siting procedure by a local referendum.

The assessment of technical aspects followed the selection of potentially suitable sites approved by local communities. In the communities not proposing the site themselves, the areas were analyzed using environmental, spatial and safety arguments. Water protection areas, catastrophic flooding regions, areas inside Natura 2000, areas inside 500 metres from continuously populated areas, community or national borders, were excluded from further assessment. ARAO defined 11 potentially suitable sites in 4 local communities, and a fifth community proposed another site.

The proposed 12 sites were assessed from the point of view of passive safety, technical functionality, economics, environmental and spatial aspects. The methodology, criteria and evaluation approach were prepared for each of these aspects, and assessment parameters were defined. The results of the expert assessments based on cabinet data and field visits were used for the comparison and evaluation of proposed potentially suitable sites. The sites were classified first by ranking local communities by the public acceptability criterion. In the second step, all other aspects were considered equally and the sites were ranked again. If the potential site was excluded only because of one aspect it was excluded from further evaluation. In this way selection of the three most promising ones for further field investigations was performed. The pre-feasibility study was finished just recently and was given to the Ministry for environment and spatial planning for final decision.

The next step in repository siting will be through the establishment of local partnership.

Together with the help of the mediator it will serve as an umbrella for all activities during site characterization and confirmation and will also be the platform for cooperation and for decision making of local stakeholders. The local partnership will consider the characteristics and expectations of the individual local community but will have to include form and mode of work, decision making contents, mode of independent studies, consultations and verification, time dependence and results of cooperation on individual steps. This will enable the process to continue with public consensus and without interruptions.



ARAO implements a variety of communication activities that are targeting different interest groups and audiences. They are supporting the site selection process in order to assure an informed and rational dialogue with the public [4]. Table 1 summarizes the main stages and major activities related to each stage. It takes into account the social issues parallel to the technological ones in the stages of technical screening and volunteer siting. The

communication activities of ARAO have two main aspects:

Table 1 Schematic representation of the combined site selection process with description of technical and communication activities

–  –  –

and fosters the community involvement in the communication activities. Both groups of activities are being applied synchronously, but activities that influence opinion making are emphasized towards the final stages of the siting process.

The information and communication activities are generally not focused on a specific community or stakeholder group, but some of them are concentrated in the communities having the natural potential for hosting an LILW repository or are already hosting a nuclear facility.

3.1 Types of information and education activities

The information activities are based on the »right to know« concept as introduced in the Aarhus Convention, and the concept of informed decision making. In the first stage of the process ARAO produced a variety of information and learning materials on radioactivity and

radioactive waste management:

⎯ leaflets, ⎯ books, ⎯ ARAO magazine ⎯ posters, ⎯ CD-ROMs and videocassettes, ⎯ web pages, ⎯ articles in popular science and educational magazines, ⎯ articles in local newspapers and magazines, ⎯ radio and television broadcasts.

All the materials are free of charge and are distributed to primary and secondary schools and to public libraries. They can be also obtained upon request from ARAO. They are well accepted by the youngsters and also by the adult population who wish to learn more about LILW disposal and related topics.

3.2 Types of two-way communication activities The target public for two-way communication activities are identified stakeholders, e.g.

competent local authorities, technical and general public, ministries and governmental personnel, nongovernmental environmental organizations, journalists, and educators. The activities are meant to reduce the potential conflicts in the LILW repository siting process;

therefore they have become more important since the year 2001, when potentially suitable areas in Slovenia were defined by technical criteria. Most of the communication activities

organized by ARAO are targeting specific portions of the public:

⎯ workshops for environmental organizations ⎯ presentations for representatives of local authorities, ⎯ direct communication by the publicly available e-mail address, ⎯ study circles, ⎯ special presentations for journalists, ⎯ participation in e-forum on LILW repository siting, ⎯ open door day at the Central Interim Storage Facility for Radioactive Waste, ⎯ visits and presentations by an independent mediator.

The Visitors' Centre was also established to promote knowledge and communication about radioactivity, nuclear technology and radioactive waste management. It is situated near the Central Interim Storage Facility for LILW and the Research Reactor Centre.

Participation of local communities and individuals in communication activities is based on free decision. The activities provide a free and safe environment for open discussion on all conflicting issues. The participation of nuclear professionals in these discussions is very important to resolve the emerging problems and objections. ARAO tries to be proactive in all communication situations, while the participants can withdraw at any time.

The procedure for the LILW repository site gaining is proceeding step-by-step with the help of two-way communication activities. No further step is undertaken before the previous one has been completely agreed upon between all parties involved.

4. CONCLUSIONS Public perception of LILW repositories as being risky objects and therefore unacceptable by local communities comes from bad information, the feeling of being sidelined from the decision process and fear of being abused for the interests of local authorities. The integration of different communication approaches and the wide range of addressed public applied by ARAO have proved to be successful. The integral communication approach helps in confidence building and provides conditions for future negotiating with the local communities that might be appropriate for accepting the LILW repository. Implemented governmental assistance such as compensation mechanisms for limited land-use on the site of a nuclear facility and also some strategic documents on radioactive waste management policy provide necessary support for the site selection process.

In November 2004, ARAO invited all local communities in Slovenia to take part in the siting procedure for an LILW repository. Some of them notified us that they were not willing to participate, but ARAO also gained several positive answers. Feasibility studies will show if ARAO can continue with site evaluation and establish a local partnership in three local communities at most. The repository siting has to be finished by 2008, and the construction of a repository by 2013.


The authors wish to thank Prof. Dr. M. Polič from the Faculty of Arts, Department of Psychology, University of Ljubljana, and Prof. Dr. D. Kos from the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana for all interesting and practical ideas which helped us to continue in sometimes hard communication situations. We also sincerely thank. D. Drapal, who carried out many of the communication activities.

–  –  –

[1] MELE, I., ŽELEZNIK, N., A New Approach to the LILW Repository Site Selection, International Conference “Nuclear Energy in Central Europe ‘98”, Čatežke toplice, Slovenia, 7-9 September, 1998, Proceedings, ISBN 961-6207-10p- 471-477.

[2] RICHARDSON, P.J., An Overview of International Siting Programmes for Radioactive Waste Disposal Facilities, SSI-rapport 94-15.

[3] TOMŠE, P., MELE, I., ŽELEZNIK, N., Present Status, Objectives and Preliminary Geological Suitability Assessment for LILW Disposal, International Conference on Geological Challenges in Radioactive Waste Isolation: Third Worldwide Review, Berkeley, California, USA, 27-28 April, 2001, LBNL-49767, p. 237-244, Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California.

[4] KOS, D., POLIČ, M., KLINE, M., ŠRIBAR, R., SKUŠEK, Z., Preparation of the strategic and operational plan of communication with local communities in LILW repository siting, Final Report, 1999, pp. 101.

[5] Predprimerjalna študija za izbor treh potencialnih lokacij za odlagališče NSRAO, ARAO-T-2134-3/2, Oktober 2005.

Public involvement in the establishment and operation of the low and intermediate level waste repository at Vaalputs in South Africa P.J. Bredell Necsa, Pretoria, South Africa Abstract The National Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility at Vaalputs is owned and operated by the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) on behalf of the South African Government. Vaalputs currently only accepts the operational waste from the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) situated near Cape Town approximately 550 km to the South of Vaalputs. Plans are also underway to dispose of Necsa’s low and intermediate level waste at Vaalputs in the future. In this paper a brief overview is given of the impact of repository site selection and operation on public perceptions. The consequences of media coverage of certain historical events relating to the safety of the repository are discussed. The outcome of Necsa’s efforts at communicating with its stakeholders at Vaalputs is evaluated in terms of the effect on local, regional and national perceptions. The benefits derived from the creation of a Vaalputs Communication Forum (VCF) are considered against the background of the activities of environmental NGO’s aimed at opposing Vaalputs’ efforts to establish effective public relations. The VCF was replaced in 2003 by the statutory Public Safety Information Forum (PSIF) established in terms of government regulations. The experience gained over the last 20 years on public communication is briefly assessed using an internationally accepted model for public transparency.


The National Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility at Vaalputs has been in operation since

1986. This facility is owned and operated by Necsa on behalf of the South African Government. Vaalputs currently only accepts the operational waste from the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) situated near Cape Town approximately 550 km to the South of Vaalputs. KNPP is operated by the national electricity utility, Eskom, and comprises two 980 MW PWR’s of French design commissioned in 1986. The operational waste from the power station is packaged at the reactor site and transported to Vaalputs by truck using public roads.

KNPP is responsible for all aspects of the transportation of the waste to the Vaalputs site.

Concrete drums are used for intermediate level waste and metal drums for low level waste.

Vaalputs accepts the waste packages on the basis of the waste acceptance criteria agreed with Eskom. The waste packages are disposed of in a near surface disposal facility, consisting of earthen trenches measuring approximately 6m wide, 6m deep and of variable length depending of the disposal strategy. The low level metal drums and the concrete intermediate level drums are emplaced into separate trenches back-filled and capped with clay to prevent water ingress into the repository. To date 10 300 metal drums and 2850 concrete drums have been disposed of at Vaalputs.

The Vaalputs site is situated in an arid and very sparsely populated western region of South Africa. In the vicinity of Vaalputs there is little agricultural and mining activity and the land is mostly utilized for sheep farming purposes. Apart from the few farmers in the surrounding area there are also a number of small low-income communities living under difficult socioeconomic circumstances.


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