Inter-generational solidarity is one of the main motives for starting the long-term management of high-level radioactive waste. Geological disposal is invariably put forward as the reference solution, as in the NIRAS Waste Plan. However, its implementation is a work that extends over several generations. The responsibility with regard to the next generations therefore makes it necessary to deal consciously with the challenge of developing a robust process design; building in facilities that allow future generations of civil society actors to be involved over the long period ranging from a policy decision on geological disposal to the closure of such an installation. The integration of this long-term perspective in the design of a decision-making process, within which sufficient flexibility with respect to social evolutions (including technology) is foreseen, is therefore a mandatory assignment.
The European Directive 2011/70 / Euratom obliges every European member state to adopt a national program for the long-term management of radioactive waste by August 2015. Here, the focus is on highly radioactive waste and spent fuel. The Directive mentions geological disposal as the reference solution (as opposed to surface disposal for low and intermediate level waste), but recognizes the autonomy of the Member States over the management of their radioactive waste. The ONDRAF / NIRAS Waste Plan can in essence be regarded as a preparatory document that serves as the basis for a Belgian program. To date, however, no formal political decision has been linked to the Waste Plan. In the meantime, Directive 2011/70 / Euratom has been transposed into Belgian legislation, which lays down the responsibilities for this process, among other things. After all, the European Directive not only requires Member States to make choices about long-term management, but also explicitly requests that 'milestones and timeframes' (Article 12.c) be included and that the necessary opportunities must be given to stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process (Article 10.2).
These principles were adopted in Belgian law, but not yet operationalized. Through this research we aim to provide ONDRAF / NIRAS with tools to, together with the most important stakeholders, shape a governance process for the long-term management of Belgian high-level radioactive waste. We deliberately use the notion of governance here, to indicate that the process encompasses more than only technical and administrative management. How can a process be designed that is sufficiently robust and flexible to guarantee the safe management of this waste, today and in the future?
The central research question is therefore as follows: How can inter-generational stakeholder involvement in the long-term management of the category B & C waste be consciously and actively designed?
Organizing inter-generational stakeholder involvement poses a clear fundamental scientific question within the literature, but also has practical implications on the strategic orientation that must be followed today.