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Building trust in nuclear waste management through participatory quantitative story telling

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ENTRUST (Building trust in nuclear waste management through participatory quantitative story telling)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2019-08-01 al 2020-07-31

The project ENTRUST was coordinated by Amphos 21 Consulting S.L. located in Barcelona, Spain, in collaboration with Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) in California, USA. It examined the general question of how to manage in the long term the growing stocks of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste (HLW) produced at commercial power plants in a context of uncertain transitions and persisting societal concerns over nuclear energy technologies. The project comprised scientific and training objectives. The main scientific objective was to develop an analytical framework for the holistic assessment of nuclear waste management (NWM) scenarios and policies with the objective of building and maintaining public trust.

The ENTRUST project resulted in several scientific publications, collaborations with nuclear waste organizations in the EU and the U.S. for transferring the research innovations into their R&D programs, and the creation of a spin-off company, Decidia Research & Consulting, dedicated to the development and application of methods for uncertainty management, conflict management, models’ integration, and science-society interface.
During the ENTRUST project, the researcher designed and developed several analytical tools supporting the integrated assessment of NWM strategies: (1) a comprehensive bibliometric analytical tool to study the scholarly and scientific literature about nuclear waste since 1940; (2) a multi-criteria evaluation tool for the comparison of long-term SNF storage options; and (3) a multi-criteria evaluation tool used to compare different disposal strategies by comparing the relative performance of sites at the level of their geological environment properties. The approach has been part of recent efforts toward the integration of the back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle. The back-end integration accounts for the various processes of NWM—onsite storage, consolidated storage, transport and geological disposal. These processes must be fully coupled so that benefits and impacts can be assessed at the level of the whole fuel cycle and for the different social actors. The tools developed during this project support that aim by allowing the evaluation of NWM systems at any point in the system (storage, transport, disposal). The tools have been initially developed in the context of the U.S. NWM program during the outgoing phase and were then applied to the EU context, in particular, on clay-based nuclear waste repository programs as is the case of France, Belgium and Switzerland.

To support the scientific objectives of the project, the researcher went through an extensive training program on the technical and scientific basis of NWM while at Stanford University. The training program consisted in auditing classes, reviewing the scientific literature, participating to workshops/conferences, and interviewing experts in the many fields relevant to the technical and social aspects of NWM.

The research activities of this project led to several publications, including five research papers, one book chapter, four conference papers, two conference posters and one commentary. The project also had significant policy impact with the ER collaborating with nuclear waste organizations of EU countries and U.S. national laboratories for transferring the research innovations of this project to their research and development programs.
To enhance the transfer to society of the research innovations developed by the ENTRUST project, the ER created a spin-off company called Decidia Research & Consulting (https://www.decidiarc.com/). The company is dedicated to the development and application of methods for uncertainty management, conflict management, models’ integration, and science-society interface. Decidia engages national agencies, local communities, technology providers and research laboratories to implement integration and oversight procedures that improve the societal relevance and acceptance of their models and decision-making processes. It operates on a broad spectrum of areas—which goes beyond the scope of the ENTRUST project—ranging from radioactive waste management to decommissioning of nuclear facilities, environmental remediation, natural resource management, energy systems and large infrastructures.
The complexity of geological disposal systems (DOI: 10.3390/su10124390)