Message from the President

July 2018 Message from Dr. Shunsuke Kondo, President of NUMO

Shunsuke KondoIn July 2017, the government published “the Nationwide Map of Scientific Features for Geological Disposal” as the first step on the long road toward realization of geological disposal of higher radioactive waste in Japan. Since then NUMO and METI have jointly held nationwide symposia and information exchange meetings. In the meetings, we explained the safety and societal significance of geological disposal of the waste, the necessity of starting investigations of the geological environment with the support of local residents to decide a repository site, relationships between these investigations and the publication of the map, criteria of geological characteristics for classifying areas on the map, and ideas to appreciate the community that will host the geological disposal project for the benefit of society. In the meetings, we organized small group discussions in which we responded to opinions and questions of participants sincerely.

It was our regret, however, that inappropriate activities in looking for participants for the meeting were revealed last November. Recognizing that they occurred due to our lack of risk management of outsourcing activities, we discontinued the meetings for a while, and conducted investigations on the root causes of the case by forming a special investigation team composed of members of the NUMO’s Board of Councilors (external experts) and a lawyer. We received from the Board of Councilors their analysis of the cause of the happening of such activities and recommendations for the prevention of their recurrence in the end of the last year.

Taking the recommendations seriously, we newly established the Risk Management Department that makes sure that we manage risks so that we minimize the occurrence probability of any further inappropriate cases, and established a Communication Activities Team composed of young employees from several different departments to discuss new approaches to communication activities, and set the Action Plan for Reforming Communication Activities with a view to improving preparation and execution of the meetings and clarifying the rules to ensure fairness and participants-first in the operation of the meetings; then we carried out a series of the “Dialogue-Based Explanatory Meeting” to check their effectiveness. Furthermore, with determination that we will never make the same mistake again, we revised our Mission Statement to add terms for ensuring fairness and thorough risk management in implementation of corporate activities.

In our communication activities, we have carried out various activities: invitation of families to the tours of URLs, dispatch of NUMO’s communication vehicle “Geo Mirai” to public spaces of shopping malls or town square fronts, support for teachers’ workshops, giving lectures to students on geological disposal, dispatching of experts to support the preparation of debate classes in colleges and financial support of various groups across Japan that voluntarily learn the geological disposal project.

In the field of R&D, we undertook R&D activities in accordance with the “R&D Plan of the Geological Disposal Project” in the “Mid-Term R&D Plan (FY2013-FY2017),” with a view to effectively honing technological capabilities under improved quality management efforts, including surveys and assessments of the characteristics of the geological environment, engineering approaches such as design and construction techniques for the engineered barrier system, assurance of safety during the project implementation, and assessments of long-term safety of geological disposal focusing on the post-closure period of a repository, while regularly reviewing the contents and schedules of these activities. We also made efforts to actively publish the results of these researches through articles and presentations at various academic conferences and increase interaction with experts/specialists in related institutes.

With the outcome of these efforts, we developed a generic safety case report, aiming to improve NUMO’s technical reliability. We plan to ask its review by the expert group organized in the Atomic Energy Society of Japan. We also developed a brochure (an introduction version) that explains technical aspects of geological disposal based on the safety case report.

Furthermore, in the effort of the METI’s Coordinating Committee for R&D for Geological Disposal to set the “Overall Plan for R&D for Geological Disposal (FY2018-FY2022)” NUMO took an initiative in discussions and coordination of relevant organizations while conducting reviews and recommendations as an organization of technical experts. Following these efforts, we developed our “Mid-Term R&D Plan (FY2018-FY2022).”

Aiming to be a socially trustworthy organization, we strive to fulfill our Mid-Term Project Goals, improving the quality of corporate activities, ensuring thorough risk management and taking various measures including organizational self-inspection. We will move forward with the project, earnestly accepting the evaluations and recommendations of the Board of Councilors.

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 6, 2018

Shunsuke Kondo
Dr. Shunsuke Kondo
President of NUMO