July 28, 2017
NUMO’s Communication Activities Plan
We have established the Communication Activities Plan specified in the Mid-Term Project Goals.
Ⅰ. Basic principles for the communication activities undertaken by NUMO
In accordance with the Basic Policy on the Final Disposal of Designated Radioactive Waste (cabinet decision made in May 2015), the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO) continues making efforts to promote mutual understanding with local residents in survey areas, and widely interacts with residents to build collaborative relationships, and thus in this way, hopes to gain the trust of entire communities.
With strong determination to gain understanding and acceptance of the geological disposal (GD) project and realize the project, we will proactively carry out activities to obtain public understanding of both the significance and safety of the project. We will do this in cooperation with the government, with appropriate division of roles and responsibilities, while continuously striving to hone technological capabilities.
We will carry out communication activities in areas that are assumed to be suitable, not just from a geological standpoint but also from a viewpoint of safe transportation of waste, aiming for acceptance of our request of a Literature Survey. We will widely disseminate information about the project to have the public support for people in areas which accept a Literature Survey for the benefit of the society to contribute to solving one of Japan’s societal issues.
- Preparations for conducting communication activities after the publication of the Nationwide Map of Scientific Features for Geological Disposal
1. Organizational structure
In preparation for the publication of the nationwide map of scientific features for geological disposal (hereinafter referred to as “the map”) by the government, in July 2016, we reorganized the Communication and Public Acceptance Department which is in charge of NUMO’s communication activities. For example, we increased the number of staff that can engage in communication activities. We also formed a Communication Activities Team that will allow NUMO to hold meetings around the country at several locations simultaneously. Furthermore, we installed additional phone lines, which allows several more staff to promptly respond to public inquiries via telephone.
In April 2017, we started the collaboration with inquiry desks of a number of electricity utilities based in each prefecture of Japan, so as to be able to receive and quickly respond to opinions and questions from local residents.
2. Communication materials
In preparation for the publication of the map, we decided to develop communication materials such as brochures that explain in detail the safety of the GD project and the ideas behind the publication of the map to address the various concerns and requirements of the public.
3. Enhancement of knowledge
To ensure consensus-building at both national and local levels, NUMO needs to have sufficient academic knowledge of the social aspects of geological disposal, therefore we will conduct studies on these aspects on a continuous basis.
Ⅲ. Details of communication activities
1. Key aspects of NUMO’s communication activities
In our public relations and communication activities, we have made efforts to raise awareness and enhance understanding of the GD project by giving the public an overview of the project, explaining its significance and outlining the principles for assuring safety and the ideas behind the publication of the map. Using the publication of the map as an opportunity to promote further understanding of the project, we will regularly undertake communication activities at both national and local levels, focusing on the points below:
- It is the responsibility of the current generation to realize final disposal of radioactive waste and this task should not be placed on future generations. Disposal of radioactive waste should be addressed irrespective of the future of nuclear power generation.
- There is an international consensus that “geological disposal” is the most practical method to ensure safety long after the absence of institutional control.
- The realization of the GD project of HLW will pave the way for solving one of Japan’s societal issues.
- Before decision was made by a municipality to accept a geological disposal facility (GDF), we will perform surveys and characterization of the geological environment.
- The highest priority of the project is to ensure safety, and therefore it is important to conduct surveys in a stepwise manner increasing their accuracy. From this process, candidate sites will be narrowed down taking designs developed for a GDF and the results of safety assessments into consideration. Therefore, we have already researched, assessed and accumulated technologies required for the site selection process.
- It is required that each of the surveys can only proceed to the next stage after listening to the opinions of municipalities (mayors) and cannot proceed if there is opposition.
- At the Literature Survey stage, we will assess various social science aspects, e.g. effects of construction and operation of a GDF on the local environment, economy, society and culture and assess the feasibility of further surveys, construction and operation of a GDF, and report the results as the “social, economic and environmental impact assessment” to the local municipality.
- When a site has been selected and agreed upon with a local municipality, we will relocate our headquarters to the repository site during the construction and operational phases, with a view to facilitating social infrastructure development, creating jobs and procuring as many local materials as possible. During this time, the government will provide grants to any hosting municipality that accepts a Literature Survey as an expression of both the respect and gratitude of the public.
2. Communication activities: from publication of the map to the commencement of a Literature Survey
In response to the publication of the map, we will disseminate sufficient information to the public regarding the concept for a deep geological repository, the necessity and safety of the project, in collaboration with the government and local electricity utilities. In addition, we will outline both the ideas behind the publication of the map and contribution to the society, through various approaches such as utilization of mass media and face-to-face dialogue. Moreover, to foster feelings of respect and gratitude towards a local municipality that decides to consider acceptance of a Literature Survey, we will carry out communication activities throughout Japan to raise awareness of the importance of the project among the general public at large.
Furthermore, we will provide municipalities across Japan with updated communication materials that include more detailed information related to the map.
A. Public relations and communication activities across Japan
To gain understanding from the public, including the young generation, we will carry out public relations and communication activities using various different approaches including: utilization of mass and web media, staging of small group discussions and also larger events capable of attracting many participants.
We will also carry out activities that will encourage members of the public who are interested in learning more about geological disposal voluntarily. In the interests of transparency, we will widely share the results of these activities.
Further details of our planned communication activities are as follows:
1. Utilization of mass media
We will make efforts to increase awareness, interest and understanding of the GD project throughout Japan by utilizing mass media outlets such as: television, radio, newspapers and magazines. We will develop advertisements that will target a representative range of the population (e.g. according to age, sex and occupation).
Also, we disseminate information to the press (including local newspapers) and TV stations across Japan in a timely and transparent manner to allow fair and accurate coverage.
2. Enhancing public understanding, especially future generations
Taking into consideration that the implementation and operation of the GD project will take place over a period of one hundred years or more, we will strive to make information more accessible and increase learning opportunities. By doing this we hope to gain the next generation’s understanding of geological disposal, so that we might increase stakeholder knowledge over a number of decades.
In the field of school education, we will help develop an environment where students can learn more about the GD project and come to an understanding of why it is one of the society’s important responsibilities.
For example, we plan to create a platform where our staff can effectively deliver presentations in school classrooms and share these efforts on the NUMO’s website to increase the number of classes dealing with geological disposal in schools across the country. In addition, we will promote events for families using a communication vehicle called “Geo Mirai” and, in the future, it will visit venues such as science museums in prefectures that NUMO has not yet visited. We will also participate in other organizations’ general events, setting up information booths that will allow NUMO to focus on particular demographics when desired, e.g. communicating with the younger generation.
3. Encouraging public learning initiatives
We will encourage and support learning initiatives for interested members of the public (e.g. women’s organizations, economic and educational institutes).
B. Community-based approaches
We will maintain face-to-face dialogue predominantly in areas that are assumed to be suitable, not just from a geological standpoint but also from a viewpoint of safe transportation of waste.
To increase local understanding of the necessity for a GDF, promote ideas for assuring safety and increase interest in geological disposal as an important societal issue to be solved, we will disseminate information related to surveys performed on the geological environment, in addition to a range of other aspects related to a GDF. Information provided will cover: site selection, transportation infrastructure development, requirements for implementation of the project, impacts of construction and operation of a GDF on the environment, the economy, people’s lives and culture, and contribution to the society. We will reach out to and work with local residents to gather information and understand what their visions are for the future of their communities.
While further strengthening collaboration with local electricity utilities, we will move forward with transparent and sincere dialogue step by step and maintain fact-to-face communication.
We expect that the efforts we have made thus far will be rolled out across the country and with local understanding and cooperation, we aim to carry out Literature Surveys within several municipalities.
3. Communication activities after the start of a Literature Survey
If a Literature Survey is accepted by municipalities, we will establish a local management office within each area and develop a system which enables us to quickly interact with municipal officials and local residents.
At the Literature Survey stage, besides our public relations and communication activities, we also expect that municipalities themselves will voluntarily establish and run community meetings on geological disposal where local residents can participate in discussions.
In the meetings, we will make efforts to disseminate information and undertake discussions to help obtain understanding regarding the process of selecting Preliminary Investigation Areas (PIAs) by providing regular updates on the status of a Literature Survey and also understand constraints on land use in the local area through discussion.
Thus, NUMO will support municipalities in establishing and running the meetings, during which, the results of surveys and outreach activities will be explained. In these meetings any information needed on how the GD project might impact the society, the economy and the environment, will also be provided.
The approach to a Literature Survey and the process itself until it reaches completion will be decided in close consultation with municipalities and local residents.
Reference: NUMO’s outreach scheme
Since the planning and execution of the GD project will likely take place over a period of one hundred years or more, we consider local development to be one of the key factors for steady operation and advancement of the project. Before construction of a repository begins, we will transfer our headquarters to the local municipality, with the aim of integrating ourselves into the community and thereby contribute to its sustainable development.
Below is an outline of our outreach scheme that aims to regularly communicate with local residents in response to progress during survey stages in the local area, take any impacts of the project on the local area into consideration and continue discussion with residents, aiming for “win-win” collaborative relationships.
1. Creating a vibrant local community: moving towards community well-being
- Contribution to boosting and enriching the local economy (e.g. local procurement of materials, sales support of local products, etc.);
- Educational investment and stable job creation for the youth leading to increased employment; and
- Cultural support to enhance community development.
2. Creating a community where people can live safely in peace of mind and will become NUMO’s hometown
- Enhancement of medical infrastructure to build a community where people can have and raise children safely; and
- Improvement of transport and information infrastructure connecting communities where children and the elderly can live together comfortably.
- Development of infrastructure required for implementation of the GD project: concomitant improvements in community infrastructure
- Refurbishment and expansion of roads and ports, and improvement of information and telecommunications systems; and
- Construction of underground research laboratories (URLs), skills training centers, international communication centers, etc.