OBRA - European observatory for long-term governance on radioactive waste management

Continuing societal concerns limit the application of deep geological disposal in many countries. Wider societal involvement at a variety of governance levels in an open, inclusive and transparent manner is a top-level concern in all European and national organisations involved in radioactive waste management. Nevertheless, current approaches to governance of spent nuclear fuel reveal weaknesses. Local and regional communities lack access to an authoritative yet independent platform of experts to address their concerns and information needs in a systematic way and which could provide them with the sufficient knowledge base as to be able to take sound decisions concerning the long-term.

OBRA is a 2-year Coordination Action under the 6th FP EURATOM “Management of Radioactive Waste”. It aims to assess the feasibility of creating an Observatory in order to address the concerns and information needs of different stakeholders on radioactive waste management. OBRA will contribute to the better governance of radioactive waste by setting the basis for providing mechanisms for stakeholders to have access to the knowledge that has been generated by successive EU research programmes both in scientific and social sciences fields. This knowledge resides not only in published material, but also in the experience of experts, many of who may soon retire from the field. In order for all stakeholders to be able to benefit from the EU knowledge base in the form most suitable to their needs, OBRA will devise an Observatory to promote the most appropriate forms of interaction between stakeholders, mainly local and regional communities, and experts. This, in turn, will feed back into best practice for how results from research, training and development in radioactive waste management and disposal are formulated and how their dissemination to local and regional communities is managed. Such a close interaction among the different stakeholders is crucial to build up trust and create a critical mass in Europe for improving governance of radioactive waste and creating meaningful public acceptance.