Finding out your community might host a GDF falls into the “WTF?” category. It can feel like a very isolating experience, overwhelmed by the complexity of the issue, wondering what to ask and who to trust. But you are not alone. There are communities across the world going through the same experience, with remarkably consistent reactions.
Amongst those common reactions is a general distrust of politicians, government scientists, and even NGOs. It becomes important to have someone you can turn to, who has no axe to grind, in a similar position. Someone like you, with whom you can share information, learn, and build a relationship of trust and mutual support.
GDFWatch believes that direct community-to-community dialogue is vital to empowering ordinary citizens, and helping the planet resolve the issue of permanently disposing of radioactive waste. If an accident or error occurs in one country, the consequences could impact us all, wherever we live in the world. Geological disposal has the same level of scientific endorsement and global reach as Climate Change. Yet the issue is still only publicly discussed country-by-individual country, not collectively. Working together, ordinary people in communities across the world can better question scientific evidence, challenge their own governments, influence standards of safety, maximise economic opportunities, and ensure GDFs are not built inappropriately.
We have been working with the Local Government Association’s (LGA) special interest group, NuLeAF, with a pan-European grouping of local municipalities, ENWD, the OECD-NEA’s Forum for Stakeholder Confidence, and individual communities to start developing greater community-to-community collaboration.
For instance, during August 2017 GDFWatch visited Switzerland, to meet with people involved in that country’s early community discussions about hosting a GDF. In this video, they explain their reactions and what they learned from the process, as a first step in helping other prospective host communities understand the initial emotional and practical responses:
Expect more videos, from Switzerland and elsewhere. They are but a first step in helping communities get through what has been described in Switzerland as ‘the birthing’ experience, when you first find out that you might be living near the nation’s permanent site for disposing of radioactive waste. Since finding a site is a ‘consent-based’ process, it is important that you can turn to other communities for advice, to help ensure that whatever decision your community makes, it is an informed decision.