On December 6, JAEA (Japan Atomic Energy Agency) visited Bure in France to analyse the nuclear waste underground storage in a French manner and met with the CLIS (a local committee for information and follow-up). CEDRA (the Collective Against Burial of Nuclear Waste) claimed that it was to hear about the democratic process of nuclear waste burial in Bure since the CLIS is reprensenting as being a democratic tool. The aim of the meeting would be to know how the French do to make the controvesial issue of waste storgae more acceptable to the public.
It was a 3-day visit by a delegation from the JAEA at ANDRA (at the main office for the Île de France region and later at Bure) and, as requested, a meeting with a delegation from CLIS (a local committee for information and follow-up) in Bure.
The purpose of the delegation was:
- Comparison of processes in Japan with those in foreign countries
- The local inhabitants’ participation
- Measures taken by CLIS, since the delegation had been told that citizens’ participation had been organised
The delegation came well prepared, having good knowledge of the CLIS, its objectives, its members’ structure and its history.
Some of the questions concerned the activity of the CLIS:
- is the CLIS giving out information to a sufficient extent?
- is the population accorded the possibility to express their concerns?
- was the number of persons participating in the public discussions in 2005/2006 sufficient?
- have the opinions of the public been taken into account?
- has the responsibility regarding future generations been considered?
- concerns about moral and financial prejudices
- the follow-up in development
Briefly, everything related to the much-vaunted “social acceptance”, which all over the world is sought after for the burial of nuclear waste.
The discussions were quite intense and in great detail, in view of the composition of the CLIS delegation. Frequently the questions had already been answered by the CLIS secretary (an employee since 1999), with input by the representative of Medef/CCI, whereas the representative of the organisations (who has been involved with the BURE processes since their start in late 1993) supplied testimonies and analyses to support or contradict the statements.
Thus, regarding the question of the democratic processes (whether the opinions of the public have been taken into account), the Japanese delegation presented a photo (appended, in Japanese), and each delegate was given a copy of a related press article (file appended, in French and English).
This was a delegation which for a long time had been able to observe aspects that radically differ from those served by ANDRA or the institutional establishment in France.
The delegation was also informed that associated bodies in Toronto/Canada recently had received a statement by Toru Yamaji, president of NUMO (the ANDRA equivalent Japanese organisation) emphasizing that the general public in Japan is worried, that the politics are questioned, that any confidence must be earned (regarding the search of a location for the burial on nuclear waste) but that it is not achieved (for a report of the great exhibition in Toronto).
Finally a document was given to each visitor (appended file in French and English), giving a brief description of what is going on in Bure. A quick read-through of this document led to a comment by the translator, a Japanese lady who for many years has lived in France, about the word used in French to signify burial of waste: “enfouissement”. In her regular work for French institutions (such as ASN, IRSN…), she always meets other words that signify depot or storage, but she has never been subjected to the word “enfouissement” This brings to light another side of the democratic aspects in France, namely that the nuclear lobby (to say it simply) has put in considerable work into semantics, to develop euphemisms that inspire more confidence. The result is that the publications of the pro-nuclear lobby use words like “sarcophagi”, “château” or “castor”, but they never use expressions such as “wagons with nuclear waste”. Other examples: the term “nuclear excursion” is used to signify “nuclear accident”, and a “package” stands for a container of nuclear waste.
CEDRA (the Collective Against Burial of Nuclear Waste)