Regulating the long-term safety of geological disposal of radioactive waste is a key part of making progress on the radioactive waste management issue. A survey of member countries has shown that differences exist both in the protection criteria being applied and in the methods for demonstrating compliance, reflecting historical and cultural differences between countries which in turn result in a diversity of decision-making approaches and frameworks. At the same time, however, these differences in criteria are unlikely to result in significant differences in long-term protection, as all the standards being proposed are well below levels at which actual effects of radiological exposure can be observed and a range of complementary requirements is foreseen.
In order to enable experts from a wide range of backgrounds to debate the various aspects of these findings, the NEA organised an international workshop in November 2006 in Paris, France. Discussions focused on diversity in regulatory processes; the basis and tools for assuring long-term protection; ethical responsibilities of one generation to later generations and how these can be discharged; and adapting regulatory processes to the long time frames involved in implementing geological disposal. These proceedings include a summary of the viewpoints expressed as well as the 22 papers presented at the workshop.