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[en] Archaeology, the study of the remains of the ancient past, may be relevant to the long-term preservation of RK and M, because it works to recover information, knowledge and meaning that have been lost. As a discipline, archaeology studies how the past is understood in the present, potentially drawing lessons that could guide future action concerning the preservation of RK and M across time by indicating how future societies could make sense of the past. Case studies, such as an examination of European megalithic tombs, show that the understanding of the past varies across time. It was emphasised that archaeological interpretation always reflects contemporary perceptions of past and future, which are socially and culturally embedded and highly mutable over time. What is more, archaeology is a fairly recent discipline and there is no certainty that it will exist in the long term, to help recover and reconstruct lost RK and M. As a result, it cannot be assumed that information, knowledge and meaning of the past can be transmitted reliably in the long term. Based on this understanding Profs. Cornelius Holtorf and Anders Hoegberg made a case for trying to keep knowledge alive over time, continuously engaging each present. They used the notion of 'living heritage', which refers to striving for continuity in the short and medium terms as a way to reach the long term, keeping in mind that reinterpretation and knowledge development over time is a given. As a result, they suggest to 'think about the long term but act for the short and medium terms'
[en] Various NEA member countries are currently developing and constructing deep geological disposal projects for high-level and/or long-lived radioactive waste and spent fuel. These take decades to develop and implement, and the facilities are to operate passively and safely for millennia. Although different countries are in various stages of development with regard to their programmes for final radioactive waste management (RWM), for all countries with nuclear waste the question arises which relevant records, knowledge and memory should be preserved, why, how, by whom, and for how long? Consideration of this question has led to the launching of the OECD NEA Project on the 'Preservation of Records, Knowledge and Memory (RK and M) across Generations' by the RWMC in March 2011. A Collective Statement and a Vision Document have been prepared and released with RWMC approval. A project web-site has been created http://www.oecd-nea.org/rwm/rkm/. The project counts representatives from 16 organisations in 12 countries, plus the IAEA, and the support of the European Commission. Most organizations provide a financial or in-kind contribution to running of the project. Within the RK and M Project, 2012-2013 was designated for improving our understanding and reaching out to outside experts. Multi-disciplinary studies have been encouraged from the start, since preparing the project in 20101. Six surveys have been completed, the analysis of the bibliography is being conducted, a glossary of key terms has been produced and is being refined, a catalogue of regulatory requirements is being produced, and two workshops have been held. A methodology for creating the 'Menu Driven Document' has been identified, a Project meeting will be held in April 2013 and a further workshop is planned for September 2013. The project was presented to the UNESCO Conference of the Preservation of Digital Memory, which gave rise to new areas of research and collaboration, e.g., with the CoData task group on Data at Risk. Links established at the workshop will be developed further, e.g., with the builders of a 10 000 year clock - the Long Now Foundation - and the DoE Legacy Management department. The key general questions, as identified in the Vision Document, for the project in general are: Which records need to be maintained? For what purpose? Over which timescales? By whom? For whom? What can be done now - from a managerial, technical, legal, regulatory viewpoint - to provide maximum continuity of records, message, and accessibility? How much effort, and of what kind, is it reasonable to invest, now or later? The priority at this stage of the project is to complete the scoping work so far by finalizing it into written documents. Furthermore in 2012-2013, the following meetings and activities have taken place or are under consideration: A project meeting was held in April 2012. A second, open workshop was held in September 2012. A further project meeting will be held in April 2013. The third open workshop will be held in September 2013. As stated in the Vision document, the RK and M project will work towards a 'Menu-driven document that will allow people to identify the elements of a strategic action plan for RK and M preservation'. This document will contain recommendations to countries on useful practices as well as new suggested follow-on activities in this field. The release of this 'Menu driven document' is foreseen in 2014. (authors)
[en] The need to pass knowledge on to future generations is not unique to radioactive waste management. Think, for instance, of chemical waste, space debris, the location of land mines, or the genetic code of manipulated organisms, etc.. In all these cases we have to handle the impacts and effects of technologies over the long term. The time frame of these effects surmounts the lifetime of one generation and more. In order to enable future generations to handle this precarious legacy we need to hand on suitable information. However, this is not enough; we have to facilitate the understanding of the very meaning of this information, too. This can be referred to as a 'wicked problem', since the legacy of the nuclear age is distributed all over the world and huge amounts of wastes have been accumulated. There is not yet any solution available which could reduce the half-life of nuclear waste on a large industrial scale. Information is constantly decaying, e.g. due to copy processes and the limited lifetime of information carriers such as paper, chemical, electronic and nano-storage technologies. For time frames greater than 1 000 years none of the present technologies seems to be long lasting enough or effective by itself. It can be shown that no presently known information and communication technology (ICT) can preserve written or electronically stored information over 4 000 years, say. The preservation effort would have to include the reception, deciphering, and the semantically correct understanding. The decay of information entails the decay of knowledge. This leads to a decrease of possibilities to act. However, we and future generations need this knowledge (including the basics of physics and relevant technology) in order to be able to take action in the future. This task is still unresolved, both for nuclear waste management and for other issues. One can only try to pass knowledge on to future generations via institutions. However, an organisational solution via institutions will not be effective, unless we know what kind of knowledge will be important in the future. Thus, selection processes need to be managed. To do so in an effective way, there are three preconditions: - We have to transfer not only the scientific and technological information, but we also have to ensure that it might be understood in an adequate way. - We have to collect the information about nuclear waste sites with the help of stable institutions, which are responsible for the appropriate availability of the data. The option 'bury it and forget it' does not seem to be a reasonable one. All sites should be kept in a reversible mode. If new scientific or technologic findings will become available, one should have the possibility to manage the waste problem under new points of view. Hence, any information handed on should include the reversibility of the relevant technology. To gain knowledge, it is necessary to understand information as a message in a given context; hence context information (language, culture, technology) must be passed on, too. This is not a technical problem of databases. It remains the question how we can organise public education in technology. Information can be transformed into knowledge, when it has been understood (reception, reading, interpretation etc.). This transformation process needs time. Hence, the availability of information is a necessary but not sufficient condition to gain knowledge. Written papers, databases, web pages, and even books, are not enough, because we do need certain pre-knowledge to understand them. Additionally, we need practice and implicit knowledge to understand the information about the nuclear waste legacy. All this must be kept vivid and well trained. This task cannot be substituted by an automated technology but by already existing institutions like universities, academies or libraries with political support by international organisations like the OECD or the United Nations. Finally, we need to clarify the ethical foundation of any obligation to future individuals, whom we would force to deal with our technological heritage. We have also to hand on the strong conviction that the dissemination of information about the nuclear waste for each subsequent generation is essential in order to enable knowledge. There is a simple ethical reason for that: We should not lead future generations into dilemmatic situations in which they cannot act in a responsible way anymore. The least we can do is to keep them informed effectively. The next generation will have the same task, and so on and so on. This can be considered as a kind of induction. Nevertheless, this will be only a necessary condition for them to keep the possibilities open to act in a responsible way today and in far future years. But it is a way to propagate responsibility
[en] There are long time frames from the production of waste to packaging, transport, storage and final disposal in a repository. This entails changing custodians, as the responsible individuals and organisations change. This presentation once again pointed out the importance of a life cycle approach towards RK and M preservation and RWM in general. The traditional focus for the safety case has been examining individual facilities and short term goals (put bluntly, on 'getting the permit'). This approach does not lend itself to forward planning, or a holistic vision of the process. The 'Radioactive waste management case' is an effort to integrate the different individual safety cases, and focus on waste streams rather than facilities, so that the trail of decisions is documented. The concept of 'waste streams' was explained as having been developed in the context of decommissioning, in order to make concrete the idea of 'cradle to grave' life cycle analysis. The importance of creating an 'information management culture' at the level of organisations was underscored. With regard to needing to find a balance between completeness and overload, it was once again pointed out that one needs to wary to avoid a situation of 'Keep everything, find nothing'
[en] There are a number of valid, safety-related, reasons for initiatives to address the need of record keeping to retain memory of a repository after closure. Such initiatives are valuable through all stages of repository development, but are indispensable in the last stages of license dialogue. Regulatory guidance for such initiatives thus is needed to allow for a measured, optimized and graded; that is, it is a proportional approach. In the absence of guidance, the operator's or implementer's work is susceptible to uncertainties regarding direction, the proper use of research resources, and so on. Inspiration may be found in national regulatory frameworks such as the ones of Finland, Japan and Germany. Nevertheless, the safety regulator alone may not possess all the necessary mandates needed for the transfer of records to a post closure archive. It is therefore advisable to formulate, at a government level, a project to establish the ultimate goal for RK and M, and the general steps that are needed. An additional issue requiring governmental action is the assessment of the RK and M initiatives' relation to international conventions, such as the Joint Convention, the Aarhus Convention and the Non- Proliferation Treaty (regarding safeguards). This presentation agreed with the fact that the local level indeed has a role to play, but highlighted that national, high level awareness is indispensable. During discussions, it was acknowledged that RK and M preservation includes a large number of elusive matters that tend to blow up debates. Even so, the need for a more or less detailed reference that delineates boundaries is needed. Presuming that the present society is a model for the future society may be the most robust way to go about it, as this avoids the temptation to indulge in science fiction. This is also relevant when thinking about reconstruction measures to account for the fact the chain of information may be broken at some stage. The relevance of the international level and the importance of finding a balance between raw data and metadata was underlined. It was pointed out that the issue of how the dimension of openness relates to safeguards deserves further attention
[en] The management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste account from July last year with its own Community legislation, Directive 2011/70/Euratom. The intention is to ensure that all Member States to develop this task with the utmost responsibility and safety. Below is performed a thorough analysis of the standard through some of his articles, examines their transposition in the European Union and Spain and made a comparison with existing international law on the subject. (Author) 31 refs.
[en] The current management system in the United States for commercial spent nuclear fuel does not emphasize integration among storage, transportation, and disposal. The large containers in use for dry-storage remain at high temperatures for decades and, thereby, delay removal from decommissioned reactors. The large containers also have no easy path to disposal unless (1) disposal is delayed (up to 150 years for some geologic media); (2) the contents are repackaged into smaller, cooler packages; or (3) the high temperatures are used as de facto site-selection criteria for a repository. Implementing consolidated interim storage could address many issues that exist because of this lack of integration. A consolidated interim storage facility that includes appropriate capabilities acts as a universal coupler that allows existing disparate parts to integrate as a system. Previous agencies and commissions have noted this theme before as a way to provide flexibility in the waste management system. This rationale is elaborated upon here. (author)
[en] Proposals for a set of provisions for long-term memory and knowledge to be defined for a radioactive waste disposal facility, near surface or deep underground, address two primary motives, related to two ethical principles. The first motive is to prevent future generations from interfering involuntarily with the repository. This requires maintaining awareness of the repository, and addresses the ethical principle of protection of man and environment. The second motive is to provide future generations all the available relevant information which might help them make informed decisions about intentional actions, and assess the consequences. This requires transmitting detailed knowledge of the repository, and addresses the ethical principle of preservation of freedom of action. The set of provisions to be implemented with respect to each of these motives may not be the same. In order to define and assess the set of provisions, it is also useful to identify the various components of the process of transmission of a given message, or set of messages, to future generations. Three sub-processes have been identified: (i) 'memorization', at the producer stage, where a full set of information to be transmitted is identified, organized and expressed; (ii) 'preservation', where the potential durability of records is extended, the preservation conditions are controlled and where the records may be restored, if their status is degraded; (iii) 'access', at the receiver stage, where the receiver has to be notified of the existence of the information, to find it and to interpret it properly. As a failure of transmission to future generations would result from the failure of any of the subprocesses, a minimal set of provisions may be defined from this decomposition. (authors)
[en] NEA member countries are currently developing deep geological disposal projects for radioactive waste and spent fuel. These facilities will be implemented and operated over several decades. Once closed, they are to remain safe for millennia. Geological repositories are designed to be intrinsically safe and final; safety is not to depend on human presence and intervention. However, there is no intention to forgo, at any time, records, knowledge, memory (RK and M) and awareness of the repository and the waste it contains. Besides, specific requirements may have to be fulfilled in the area of RK and M based on national legislation and regulation, e.g. in the area of preventing human intrusion, favouring retrievability of the waste, or to simply allow future generations to make their own informed decisions about the waste. Additionally, host communities and regions have indicated a strong interest in that appropriate provisions exist for preserving detailed information about the repository for as long as possible. As a result, national programmes are actively seeking to improve their understanding of the preservation of RK and M about radioactive waste across generations and to implement the necessary provisions. The NEA Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC) initiative on the Preservation of RK and M across Generations was launched to meet the demands from member countries for facilitating exchange and fostering reflection in this area, including formulating common approaches. This initiative has as its focus the period of time after repository closure; another initiative, RepMet, deals with the period before closure. There is no single mechanism or technique that, by itself, would achieve the preservation of RK and M over centuries and millennia. Rather, an integrated set of mechanisms and techniques - technical, administrative and societal - is needed to address the various timescales and to support one another. The RK and M initiative started in 2011 with the first phase ending in March 2014, at which time the RWMC decided to extend the initiative until 2017. 19 organisations from 13 countries, representing policy makers, regulators, implementing agencies and R and D institutions, participate in the initiative in this second phase. Complementing the long-term, post-closure focus of the RK and M initiative, an initiative concentrating on the pre-closure period and the management of (meta-)data about radioactive waste and geological repositories was launched jointly with the Integration Group for the Safety Case (IGSC). The new, Radioactive Waste Repository Metadata Management (RepMet) initiative aims to bring about a better understanding of the identification and administration of metadata to support national programmes in managing their radioactive waste repository data, information and records in a way that is both harmonised internationally and suitable for long-term management and use. The first meeting of the RepMet initiative took place on 20-21 January 2014 at the NEA. The NEA RWMC adopted a collective statement on 'Foundations and guiding principles for the preservation of records, knowledge and memory across generations: A focus on the post-closure phase of geological repositories' at its 47. session, which took place on 27-28 March 2014 at the OECD conference centre. A number of project studies were published in 2013/14 and are available on the RK and M web site. Several RK and M group meetings took place at NEA, Paris, in April and September 2013, and February, April, and May 2014. 'Constructing Memory', an international conference and debate on the preservation of records, knowledge and memory of radioactive waste across generations, will take place in Verdun (France) in September 2014. This progress report is the third of the RK and M initiative and covers the March 2013 - March 2014 period