On 14-17 December 2010, the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) organised the International Conference and Dialogue on Reversibility and Retrievability in Planning Geological Repositories. Fifteen NEA member countries and two international organizations were represented. Over 180 policy makers, civil society stakeholders and experts from academia and from implementing and regulatory organisations explored the commonalities and differences between national waste management programmes as well as the various stakeholder expectations. Chaired by French MP Claude Birraux, this conference was the culmination of the Reversibility and Retrievability (R&R) project established in 2007 by the NEA Radioactive Waste Management Committee (RWMC).
The conference was hosted in Reims, France by the Agence nationale pour la gestion des déchets radioactifs (ANDRA), who played an important role in the development of the NEA International Retrievability Scale . This scale, published in a 4-page leaflet in English and in French, is recognized as an effective tool for promoting dialogue amongst interested parties. Conference proceedings will be published early in 2012. This international conference was the first in a decade on this subject, and the first ever to propose dialogue among such a wide range of stakeholders.
Among the key points that emerged are:
Overall, Reversibility and Retrievability are tools which help implement repositories in a manner that is professional and responds to ethical and precautionary obligations. They add societal and technical value to repository development plans by helping to close down options in a considered manner. R&R practices are not essential to long-term safety, but provide extra assurance that long-term safety will be achieved. It was concluded at the conference that: "R&R are not a destination, but a path to be walked together".
The conference was organised in co-operation with:
With the support of: