Message from the President

July 2017 Message from Dr. Shunsuke Kondo, President of NUMO

Shunsuke KondoIn FY2016 NUMO carried out series of dialogue with the public about the geological disposal project in view of the announcement of the “Nationwide Map of Scientific Features for Geological Disposal” by the Government, and devoted our energy to the preparation of a generic safety case report and the promotion of R&D required for realizing the project with safety and state-of-the-art technology.

In communication activities, the Government and NUMO co-hosted nationwide symposia in 9 cities throughout Japan from May through June this year. We explained the basic idea and significance of the project, the necessity of detailed investigations of geological environment to decide a repository site, how those investigations are related to the announcement of the map, and the current status of discussions for the requirement and criteria for the map, furthermore, the pros and cons expected for local society accepting the project, and then asked participants about their opinions. In the meantime, we reached a conclusion that it is most important to have the public know and understand NUMO staff. Consequently, we subsequently held geological disposal seminars and opinion exchange meetings in 31 cities, where we conveyed our views and listened to the thoughts of the public mainly through small group discussions. In parallel, we positively performed visits of various locations using a communication vehicle “Geo-Mirai,” visits and explanations to various organizations and local newspapers, cross-media advertising and the support of voluntary learning of local groups.

In R&D activities, we have striven to improve a draft of the generic safety case report of which aim is to demonstrate the reliability of technical approaches to realize safe geological disposal in Japan, taking into consideration of reviews by Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) members and external experts. At the same time, we have made efforts to improve the disposal techniques and risk assessment capability in accordance with the 5-year R&D plan (the mid-term R&D plan) set in FY2013.

We continuously reviewed and tried to improve the quality of these activities, executing the PDCA cycle. Considering the recent increasing of threat levels, we also worked on risk management to enhance information security in an appropriate manner.

In a long-term project, it is important to set short-, mid- and long-term goals, and to plan and move forward activities to fulfill each goal effectively and efficiently. Therefore, NUMO set the period from the announcement of the map until the implementation of the Literature Survey as the “mid-term project period” and established goals for communication activities, technology R&D and organizational management to be achieved in this period as the “Mid-Term Project Goals.”

We reported above activities to the Board of Councilors of NUMO and requested their opinions, and endeavored to smoothly reflect them to our activities, together with the Board’s review and recommendations for the past fiscal year.

In the meantime, last September, the Atomic Energy Commission of Japan (AEC) performed an assessment for the current state of efforts by relevant administrative organizations including NUMO, in accordance with the Basic Policy on the Final Disposal of Specified Radioactive Waste. As a result, they evaluated, “efforts have done appropriately on the whole,” and “although some parts need to be improved individually, in general, clarity, transparency and responsiveness are secured at a high standard.” They suggested, it is essential “to continue activities for obtaining public understanding,” “focus on a long-term perspective,” and “relevant administrative organizations and the implementer closely collaborate each other and make preparations.” We then promptly incorporated this suggestion into project activities in FY2016, the FY2017 annual project plan, and the budget and fund plan.

On this April, the Government compiled a report titled “Summary of Requirement and Criteria for Nationwide Map of Scientific Features for Geological Disposal” and continues discussions for the map based on it. We expect that the announcement of the map would raise the public awareness of the project. Thus, while developing our technical capability to ensure safety through R&D, we will proactively communicate our views and listen to the opinions of the public through communication activities focusing on small group discussions, and reflect them to our project approach including R&D. As such, we strive further to increase local residents who consider the acceptance of the literature survey as an important service to the nation, which can contribute to development of their communities.

Last but not least, NUMO would like the public to have interest in the project and appreciates their continuous offer of support and advice.

July 7, 2017

Shunsuke Kondo
Dr. Shunsuke Kondo
President of NUMO