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Study of a communication strategy aimed at achieving a possible better understanding of the consequence of radioactive waste management in a well defined group of public

Objective

Starting from the hypothesis that the information of the public on radioactive waste management is confronted with prejudice and ignorance, the study tries to establish whether it is possible, by working out and disseminating an argumentation that is well adjusted to a specific target group, to reduce obstacles to information and to induce the public to understand and accept the approach of Ondraf/Niras. The study consists of two phases:

- Identify the target: determine the origin and state of the knowledge of the target group on the subject concerned; work out documentation and arguments by following the general argumentation of Ondraf/Niras and by adapting it to the target group;
- Apply this argumentation to the target group and register the resulting modifications of public opinion.
Starting from the hypothesis that the information of the public on radioactive waste management is confronted with a lack of knowledge, the study tries to establish whether it is possible, by working out and disseminating an argumentation that is well adjusted to a specific target group, to reduce obstacles to information and to give the public the basic knowledge to understand the approach of ONDRAF/NIRAS. The reference target group selected for this study was composed of 15 to 18 year old youngsters. The youngsters' teachers are also actively involved in the project. Experience shows that the teachers are often not or hardly informed, which hampers the transfer of information. The methodology proposed to obtain the desired information is of a qualitative nature, comprising a general pretest, an opinion poll, discussion groups and individual interviews. Conclusions concerning the group's attitude to, and understanding of, radioactive waste management were drawn after each of these information collection techniques.

The conclusions of the study consider:
The public is not explicity asking for information on nuclear energy.
Currently, there are gaps in the information of the public. The public is only informed in case of an accident and thus only in distressing circumstances.
Information outside of accident situations, focusingon the economic and moral aspects of nuclear power, seems to help overcome psychological barriers.
The level of information on nuclear waste and on its management is very low. There is no materialization of nuclear waste.
The public does not know who deals with the management of nuclear waste and supposes that it is the power stations themselves.
Even if nuclear waste is part and parcel of nuclear energy and thus touches all levels of this issue, it is more particularly linked to the technical and moral aspects. Information on technical aspects is essential.

The guidelines for an information programme consider some elements which ha ve a direct incidence on the development of the information programme:
nuclear energy constitutes a vast issue touching various fields. Information on nuclear waste seems difficult to isolate from the whole issue. Consequently, the approach must be comprehensive.
The level of implication of the public is low, which means that there is no spontaneous demand for this type of information. In other words, as the approach is not supported by expectation, it will be of a voluntarist nature. The approach will have to minimize the degree of freedom of the listener, ie it will have to be highly structured and placed in a structuring environment (school, courses, etc).
The absence of explicit demand for information on nuclear waste implies the need for a structured approach within a structured environment.
Work programme:

The following planning has been worked out:

- definition scope project
- determination communication model and plan
- development prototype pedagogical package
- definition concept and content information centre

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

Organisme National des Déchets Radioactifs et des Matières Fissiles
Address
1,Place Madou - Boites 24/25
1030 Bruxelles
Belgium