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Newcomers, Experienced Countries Share Insights on Effective Nuclear Communication

The IAEA Technical Meeting on Tools and Techniques for Effective Nuclear Communication was hosted by TVO which operates the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant. (Photo: TVO)

Effectively communicating about nuclear power and involving different stakeholders at an early stage is one of the most important issues for a country considering or embarking on a nuclear power programme. A recent IAEA meeting, held in Olkiluoto, Finland, discussed which tools and techniques can successfully support the communication.

Involving stakeholders is also important for countries with existing nuclear facilities, especially for those constructing or planning to construct new nuclear power plants. A number of countries have extensive experience and have refined the tools and techniques they are using to engage and interact with stakeholders, including local communities and decision makers.

"The tools and techniques for stakeholder involvement have evolved over the years, and social media are playing an increasingly important role," said Anthony Stott from the IAEA Nuclear Infrastructure Development Section and Scientific Secretary of the meeting, which was held from 15 to 17 June 2015.

Hosted by TVO, which operates the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant, the meeting provided a unique opportunity for the 48 participants from 15 experienced countries and 11 nuclear 'newcomers', to share their experiences, and question and debate different approaches for effective nuclear communication.

The participants agreed that a key factor in obtaining and sustaining stakeholder confidence in nuclear power is openness and transparency. This applies for the operator of planned and existing nuclear facilities, the nuclear regulatory authorities and the respective government ministries.

The Finnish nuclear power sector has developed high standards of transparency and openness for its current and future nuclear power plants and its radioactive waste disposal facilities, and has managed to maintain throughout the years a strong local support for nuclear power.

At the meeting, the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (STUK) described the processes, including public participation, in the development and licensing of nuclear power projects in Finland. Valuable insights were shared by TVO, the Fennovoima Nuclear Power Company, and Posiva, the Finnish nuclear waste management organization, on the stakeholder involvement tools and techniques they have been using with local communities and decision makers.

Participants were also able to visit the Olkiluoto repository for the final disposal of low and intermediate level radioactive waste and Posiva's ONKALO exhibition and research hall for a repository for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

"In recent years, the IAEA has organised annual meetings on stakeholder involvement," said Mr Stott. "We have seen increasing interest from both nuclear power newcomer as well as operating and expanding countries, indicative of a recognition of the importance of stakeholder involvement in nuclear power programmes."

The next technical meeting on stakeholder involvement is scheduled for October 2015 in Japan, focussing on Best Practices in Media and Public Communication for Nuclear Power Programmes.

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