On the whole, the nuclear waste management arena is now characterized by positive trends and increased effort. When more people are pulling in the same direction, development gathers pace. I believe that there now is a trend towards focusing on national programmes and an increase in consensus, and I would especially like to emphasize the following issues:
The spent fuel disposal programmes in several countries, including Sweden and Finland, are approaching the phase of industrial implementation. At present there is a stable situation both in terms of scientific/technical capabilities to move forward and a broad social trust and confidence in the programmes. Thus, a real breakthrough is possible within the foreseeable future. This would mean that more than 25 years of investment in scientific/technical work, communication and confidence-building could bear fruit.
This is a golden opportunity to provide concrete results and all efforts are now focused on really making use of it when the resources, the know-how and the commitment needed is available. Among the key components for success are a continuous, high quality of scientific/technical work and a broad and open dialogue with all stakeholders.
Claes Thegerström is the President of SKB, the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co. He has worked with nuclear waste and environmental protection matters since the 1970s both in Sweden and internationally. He is a member of CNE, the French National Scientific Evaluation Committee. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on SKB, please visit: www.skb.se.