Launch of the first edition of the World Nuclear Waste Report (WNWR) – Focus Europe, Berlin, 11 November, 2019. This is a short version of an article that will appear in issue #882 of Nuclear Monitor.

How much radioactive waste is stored on our planet? According to the world’s first nuclear waste report, we don’t really know. We do know that nearly seven decades of civil and military reactor programmes have led to large stockpiles of waste, and that it’s growing unrelentingly; we also know that our ignorance is vast, and there appears to be no responsible solution to the problem.

The systems delivering management strategies vary tremendously from one country to another, as do the range of authorities linked to their management. So establishing volumes, risks and costs is no small task. When we add to this complexity national variances in both terminology and conceptual frameworks, a cross-country comparison turns into a colossal Gordian knot. States don’t just differ in their classification systems—they also follow different regulatory and safety procedures; the same applies to funding schemes, accounting measures, inventory reports and liability strategies. The European Commission is reportedly not able to make sense out of the country reports it receives due to the extent of the anomalies.

Criteria: Basis for Informed Decision-making

The World Nuclear Waste Report – Focus Europe (WNWR) offers criteria by which some of the evident lapses in reporting and departures from obligations can be identified and remedied. It also provides estimated costs for the management, storage and disposal of nuclear waste. The report doesn’t offer facts and figures alone; it also looks at the historical and social factors that have led to such a range of definitions, practices and taxonomies.

Such an overview is helpful as communities push for a greater say in energy and waste management decisions. Citizens and environmental NGOs are also demanding information that will help them protect their rights; and they want to know what criteria their governments are using in the waste policy-making process.

At the report launch in Berlin on 11 November, 2019, Chair of the German Civil Society Board Miranda Schreurs said that among the goals of the Board are to facilitate access to energy decision-making models and to create participatory processes that so far have failed across the board. The Board is also lobbying for the introduction of a German act ensuring public access to comprehensive geological assessments.

During the discussion on participatory mechanisms open data campaigner Robbie Morrison reported that civil society is beginning to conduct its own public policy analyses. Morrison said that organizations such as Europe’s Project Drawdown or the Open Energy Modeling Initiative are challenging institutions to offer more access to energy policy data.

Open energy modelling communities help to create tools to assess, map, model and enable solutions. The 10th European Workshop of the Open Energy Modelling Initiative, a grass-roots organization of modellers, will take place at Berlin’s Hertie School of Governance on January 18, 2020.

Christiana Mauro is an independent open data advocate and qualified member of Nuclear Transparency Watch.