Radioactive Waste in Perspective

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There was a lively discussion on the various issues and plenty of ideas generated for the steering group to take away and integrate into the second report. The UK's next update Here in the UK, compiling and improving the inventory is an active, ongoing work area. The UK Inventory is updated regularly and contains information on all wastes that are present in the UK and that are expected to arise from existing facilities. The UK Inventory is a source of important information for the government, waste producers, our own work, and the decommissioning activities of our Site Licence Companies.

Skip to main content. Inside a store containing Intermediate Level Waste The report also addresses: the institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks for the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste spent fuel and radioactive waste management programmes current practices and technologies spent fuel and radioactive waste inventories and forecasts At that initial meeting, we also focused on preparations for the second iteration — in particular, what should its scope and objectives be.

Membership provides access to Journal of Radiological Protection, either in hard copy or online. Martin A Broderick. Journal of Radiological Protection , Volume 16 , Number 4. Get permission to re-use this article.

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The Nuclear Waste Problem

This report is clearly written and concise. After the collapse of a series of attempts to find sites for nuclear waste management culminating in the rejection in of proposals for a demonstration facility at Sellafield, the heart of the United Kingdom's nuclear complex, the whole approach to policy making was reframed integrating scientific and social components. In , the UK Committee on Radioactive Waste Management CoRWM was set up, an independent body composed of 11 independent members, which made an integrated set of recommendations on the future management of the country's legacy of solid intermediate and high-level radioactive wastes.

The CoRWM process involved about people participating in a national stakeholder forum, 8 specially recruited discussion groups, self-selecting discussion groups, 4 citizens' panels, a schools project, an open access web-based discussion guide, as well as stakeholder round tables and public meetings at 14 nuclear sites CoRWM CoRWM Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.

Managing our radioactive waste safely.

Geologic disposal of radioactive waste in perspective | National Library of Australia

These examples of progress in nuclear waste management, from a situation when all nuclear countries in Western Europe witnessed a failure of technocratic handling of waste management programmes in the s, shows an integrated ambition. However, this progress has been made during a time when many European countries had decided to phase out nuclear power or at least not to build new nuclear power stations. This was a period of relative quiescence in nuclear politics, a time when, with the nuclear industry in decline, it was possible to focus on clean-up and legacy waste management.

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This special issue presents accounts of ambitious activities in the radioactive waste sector where citizens and NGOs have been invited to participate together with industry and government agencies to develop and implement policy. These articles draw on experience in four European countries — Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Switzerland — as examples where participative forms of policy making are being developed. Of course, the panoply of ideas associated with the participative turn in policy making — of community involvement, voluntarism, partnership, regional development and the like — are not confined to these countries but are emerging in different ways in a variety of democratic contexts.

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Document No. Everywhere, or at least in Western Europe, it seemed that a revolution in policy making had been achieved. The new participative approaches have been limited in range, confined to policy for the long-term management of radioactive wastes. They have impinged little, as yet, on other parts of the nuclear cycle let alone been embraced in policies for other forms of infrastructure development.

That is not to say that participation is absent elsewhere, rather that the form it takes tends to be more conventional top down consultation. There are limits, too, in terms of outcomes.

It remains the case that nowhere yet is there a deep geological repository under construction, let alone operating for the disposal of spent fuel or high-level wastes from civil nuclear programmes. It is true that both Finland and Sweden have identified sites and are on course for construction of repositories but elsewhere long-term waste management is a conceptual process rather than a matter of practical implementation. There are limits to the participatory process itself that are considered in this issue. In particular three limitations emerge. First, the tendency for most programmes is to rely on a technocratic framing where participation is most of all about informing people and trying to get support for decisions already taken.

Second, the fact that the results from processes of participation and deliberation are not taken up in the policy process. Third, in some instances successful participatory programmes relating to legacy wastes have been appropriated as a legitimating function by representatives from the nuclear industry and government to support nuclear new build. When this happens, both the ambition and commitment to further participation begins to wane. The consistent ambition of the Swedish waste management company, SKB, has been the authoritative demonstration of safety.

This ambition has been required by legislation since the late s and has forced the industry to identify its core issue as an expert activity where an outside audience of state authorities, local representatives and citizens are informed of the progress made by SKB. This means that the many consultation meetings held in connection to the siting process have been technocratically framed and more genuine attempts at public influence have been hard to achieve, even if these activities have been presented by SKB as processes of public participation and involvement.

This lack of integration, ending in a technocratic framing is according to the authors an explanation of the failures. However, more optimistically, they conclude that integration is possible to achieve. Based on interviews and survey data supporting integration, they take a first step in a formulation of an integration including public reviews of expert reports, which could stimulate and improve experts' technical solutions. Moreover, it is important to take into account citizens' local knowledge and experience as part of the overall technical design of the programme. The article of Strauss focuses on the second limitation, the problem of policy uptake.


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In this, she examines the limitations of participatory processes in relation to the Finnish EIA process, and the focus is on how these processes are organised and what kind of effects they have. The answer is that in Finland a lack of an independent regulator protecting accountability and quality of public involvement has encouraged a strong bias towards project implementation rather than a more deliberative approach to policy making.

This problem of policy uptake, how the results of participation processes could feed into broader policy processes, is also in focus in Markku Lehtonen's comparison of participatory activities in Finland, France and the United Kingdom. In all three countries, deliberative and participatory processes at the microlevel have differed in their effectiveness in influencing national policy on nuclear waste management as well as the policy on the future of nuclear power. The Finnish EIA process has suffered from a strong dominance by the nuclear establishment, where the EIA process became a legislative requirement and formally correct bureaucratic exercise instead of a process where local inhabitants and NGOs could genuinely influence the policy process.

By contrast, the CoRWM process in the United Kingdom showed a much stronger focus on how the results from a highly varied and independent process could feed into the policy process without being ignored or manipulated. The third limitation, on participatory processes and their use as a legitimating function for new nuclear power, is a key theme of the article by Blowers.

The costs and benefits of a new nuclear programme have been much contested and in the previous issue of the Journal of Integrative Environmental Sciences Sovacool Sovacool, B. Critically weighing the costs and benefits of a nuclear renaissance.

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J Integrative Environ Sci , 7 2 : — Despite the problems of capital cost, safety, reliability and the physical constraints of water and land use that Sovacool sets out, the nuclear renaissance has got off the ground on the back of its promise of energy security and environmental sustainability.

But, a major constraint on new build in the United Kingdom and elsewhere is the problem of finding acceptable solutions for nuclear waste management. As Blowers shows, the UK government has seized on the promise of a future repository for legacy wastes as a solution for new build wastes also. The much acclaimed CoRWM process with its public support for geological disposal as the best long-term solution for legacy wastes is thus being perverted to underwrite a new build programme for which it was never intended.