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Making progress on deep geological repositories (DGRs) requires effective communication on the scientific evidence of their safety in order to enhance stakeholder confidence. On 17-18 May, experts in radioactive waste management, local stakeholders and non-technical actors convened in Bern, Switzerland, to share experiences and exchange views on how to effectively communicate such technical information about radioactive waste repositories’ safety cases.

The workshop was the third organised jointly by two NEA bodies: the Integration Group for the Safety Case (IGSC) and the Forum on Stakeholder Confidence (FSC). The IGSC fosters the integration of all aspects related to the safety of DGRs into the safety case. The FSC works to address the challenges associated with societal issues related to radioactive waste management and to develop stakeholder engagement in this field. Members of both groups come from varied backgrounds, representing implementers, regulators and research organisations from countries with radioactive waste disposal programmes.

During the first day, the participants had the opportunity to visit Swiss underground research laboratories Grimsel and Mont Terri, where they learned about the status of the Swiss radioactive waste repository and saw ongoing experiments conducted in the tunnels on site.

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Workshop participants visit Swiss underground research laboratories

During the second day, the participants heard from the IGSC and FSC implementers and regulators, as well as from Swedish, Swiss and German local stakeholders. During a World Café session, participants tackled the topics of technical and non-technical information needs and trustworthy information sources, among others.

The workshop helped IGSC and FSC members gain understanding on what kind of inputs local stakeholders may need in order to gain confidence in the safety case, such as openness, transparency on the technical facts and process, direct answers to questions, acknowledgment of uncertainties, and access to models that people can see and touch. It also allowed the local stakeholders to get a better understanding of the safety case, the way uncertainties are taken into account in the process, as well as the debate on the safety case and its communication on an international level.

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