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Radioactive waste conference seeks to shape knowledge of the future

3rd April 2015

  

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Nearly 200 participants at the International Conference and Debate on the Preservation of Records, Knowledge and Memory of Radioactive Waste across Generations last year agreed that future generations should be provided with the knowledge and understanding of their environmental heritage.

All parts of the nuclear fuel cycle create radioactive waste. Uranium is the main type of nuclear fuel and the radioactive waste it leaves, which can last for thousands of years, poses threats to the environment and people and therefore needs to be safely dealt with.

The conference was held from September 15 to 17, in Verdun, France, by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), with the support of the French National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management.

Participants at this multidisciplinary conference considered not only radioactive waste management, but also other fields and disciplines, such as archives, cultural heritage, industrial archaeology, policy and regulation.

Speakers included international experts from the NEA initi- ative on the Preservation of Records, Knowledge and Memory of Radioactive Waste across Gener- ations. Other international organisations present included the Inter-national Atomic Energy Agency and the European Commission.

During his opening remarks, NEA director-general Dr Thierry Dujardin stressed that ensuring future generations have the ability to make informed decisions about their heritage is a fundamental aspect of sustainable development.

Conference participants confirmed the validity of the guiding principles cited in the collective statement of the NEA Radioactive Waste Management Committee.

Firstly, it was agreed that records will be used more by future members of society than by the original providers, and thus attention should be given to the needs of these users in terms of facilitating readability and intelligibility, providing, in particular, relevant information on the context in which the records were created.

Secondly, it was agreed that preservation approaches should include provisions for knowledge reconstruction and for providing information to future generations requiring and without requiring the involvement of intermediate generations.

The conference also came to the conclusion that there is no single best means of preservation over all timescales and that all available communication channels should be explored.

Regulatory guidance and supervision should also be developed to support the systematic approach agreed upon.

Edited by Leandi Kolver
Creamer Media Deputy Editor

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