France is developing its PNGMDR – one of these wonderful long French acronyms, standing for “Plan National de Gestion des Matières et Déchets Radioactifs” or National Plan for the Management of Radioactive Materials and Wastes.
On 17 April 2019, at 7 in the evening, a nation-wide public debate on this plan was kicked off in the Maison de la Mutualité in Paris. This was the first meeting of six months of debates touring around the country. It is organised by the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP) and the Special Committee (CPDP), state appointed bodies in charge of this public participation marathon. After Paris, the Special Committee will organize general public meetings in four major regional cities (Lille, Rennes, Bordeaux and Strasbourg), plus another sixteen more specialised debates in all corners of the country.
The meetings include the use of different formats to gather and process citizens’ viewpoints, including mirror groups and special succession workshops (ateliers de la relève) that deal with the question how to hand over the challenge of radioactive waste to the next generations.
During different phases of the debate, the commission will make proposals how to tackle certain of the wide spectrum of topics relating to the management of the different categories of radioactive materials and waste. Some debates have to give input on finding possible management options for temporary storage or final disposal. Others are related to the fuel cycle (used fuel treatment: once-through reprocessing and multi-reprocessing, distinction between useable materials and waste). Again, others will deal with ethical issues, safety and security of installations, but also questions relating to the health of potentially impacted populations and workers, to the protection of the environment. Or they deal with economy, transport of radioactive material, and governance.
To complete the entire cycle of input, the commission will organize events in the overseas departments and in some cities of France in the form of “mobile debates”, to also involve citizens that otherwise would not have a chance.
A special part of the debates are the so-called “controversy workshops”. These use a “clarification of controversies” approach, aiming to provide the non-specialist public with high quality technical information that enables better understanding of the differences in arguments put forward by experts or institutional bodies on issues relating to the proposed plans. Next to main PNGMDR debates organiser CPDP, also other institutions, companies and associations are involved, like the radioactive waste authority Andra, the nuclear technical support institute IRSN, the nuclear utility EDF, radioactive fuel producer Orano, the research institute CEA, but also citizens think tanks WiseParis and Global Chance, the environmental organisation France Nature Environment (FNE), en the local information committee of Cruas.
More information on the debates can be found on the French language website https://pngmdr.debatpublic.fr
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