Executive Director of GDFWatch
The Existential Nature of Nuclear Waste
In this episode, Roy Payne explains why he started the non-profit GDFWatch, an organization whose mission is to assist the public in having informed discussions before decisions are made for nuclear waste disposal.
Note: This transcript is the raw transcript of this podcast. Minimal edits have been made only for clarity purposes.
Roy Payne (00:10):
We can’t build a greener future and look for a sustainable and environmentally sustainable future unless we clear up the mess that we’ve made in the past. Now, nobody, nobody alive now asked for this mess. Nobody wanted this mess, but it’s there. There is no magic fairy with the wand to make it disappear. And we have a choice. And so for me, it’s very important that we start taking responsibility now for the consequences of our own actions.
Did you know that there are half a million metric tons of nuclear waste temporarily stored at hundreds of sites worldwide? In the U.S. alone, one in three people live within 50 miles of a storage site. No country has yet successfully disposed of commercial spent nuclear fuel, but it’s not for lack of a solution. So what’s the delay? The answers are complex and controversial. In this series, we explore the nuclear waste issue with people representing various pieces of this complicated puzzle. We hope this podcast will give you a clearer picture of Nuclear Waste: The Whole Story.
We believe that listening is an important element of a successful nuclear waste disposal program. A core company value is to seek and listen to different perspectives. Opinions expressed by the interviewers and their subjects are not necessarily representative of the company. If there’s a topic discussed in the podcast that is unfamiliar to you, or you’d like to more closely review what was said, please see the show notes at deepisolation.com/podcasts.
Kari Hulac (02:05):
Hello, I’m Kari Hulac, Deep Isolations Communication Manager. Today I’m talking to Roy Payne, Executive Director of GDFWatch, a UK based not-for-profit organization that supports geologic disposal of nuclear waste and wants to ensure that it’s done in a way that puts impacted communities and public safety at the core of all decision-making. Roy has more than 30 years of experience running campaigns on complex and often contentious issues. Most recently, he was an advisor to RWM, the UK agency responsible for the country’s nuclear waste management and to the UK government on developing the right approaches to stakeholder and community engagement for the UK geologic disposal program. Thank you so much for joining us today, Roy.
Roy Payne (02:58):
Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
Kari Hulac (03:01):
All right, let’s just jump right into it. We first like to ask our interviewees, how did you end up working in the nuclear waste field? And then how did you come to lead GDFWatch?
Roy Payne (03:14):
I actually joined RWM the UK’s RWMO. Right at the point of weeks, there’d been a review of the previously failed siting experience. And I joined at a time they were rethinking the policy and it struck me at the time that previous siting policies had been linked to the local election cycle. The decision was left with local authorities, local municipal leaders, which meant that we never got anywhere because every four to five years it was an election. And bearing in mind, this process could take decades from the moment you start it to the point at which you actually get approval to start work. And so the election cycle itself is a hindrance. So how do you under a consent based process, create a democratic structure that allows the community to actually have its say, but do so over a much longer period of time, that’s sort of exempt from the electoral cycle.
Roy Payne (04:08):
So we created a thing called the community partnerships and a whole new policy was created, which is the one where we’re now implementing on working with communities. I was then tasked with then, well we’ve got the policy, how do we now communicate and engage with communities? And I’ve a lot of experience in infrastructure and government information campaigns. And so started out with the traditional approach to it all. But given that is consent based, this is a completely different beast from the normal sort of infrastructure government projects, where we’re going to build this here and then we’re going to talk to local people about what the issues are and take on board their concerns. This actually requires people consent even to have a conversation with you, if they don’t wish to have a conversation with you, there’s nothing you can do about that. So I started thinking and looking at it from what does all this look like from the community’s perspective?
Roy Payne (04:56):
And suddenly you’ve got a very different perspective because someone who’s used to working in a big corporates and government, you run a campaign and you speak to the audience was actually looking from the community’s perspective. They just have this massive army of the format of the state, the new dissector rolling over their hills. Most of these communities are rural and isolated areas. They don’t have any experience with the subject at all. And all they hear is this massive group of people with large sums of money and a great palette saying we’d like to bury nuclear waste underneath your hubs. That’s all they’re hearing. So how do you engage with them in a way that allows you to slowly start having a conversation and over time, develop trust, develop relationships, and develop understanding. And so when I started thinking about it from the community perspective, I came to realization that I probably wasn’t as interested in managing a government communications campaign as I was actually looking at it from the community perspective.
Roy Payne (05:59):
And certainly as I explored this on an international level, realized the hugely human parallels that were regardless of political structure, regardless of the culture of a country, really looking at this from a community’s perspective, from ordinary people’s perspective, was the key to unlocking how you can progress geological disposal. And hence I decided that I’d established GDFWatch primarily focused on the UK siting process, but also taken on board and trying to work with international communities as well, because I’d become convinced by this stage of the ethical, the environmental, and the intergenerational issues related to geological disposal. But it wasn’t a really a technical issue. This was very much social and cultural issue, and we needed to look at it from that perspective.
Kari Hulac (06:49):
Many of our listeners may be very new to what geological disposal even is. So could you give an overview of how a geologic disposal facility would work and why scientists have said for decades that this is the best place for nuclear waste?
Roy Payne (07:06):
Yeah, I think it’s probably worth just very quickly talking about the research and the scientific background before we get into what is geologic disposal. I suspect billions of dollars have been spent over the past three or four decades. This has been a huge collaboration of the scientific community around the world. It’s the same issues confronting every nuclear country. And to the extent that we have people buy into the scientific consensus behind climate change, there is the same, if not greater scientific consensus behind geological disposal and in analyzing what was the best way of dealing with our nuclear waste or radioactive waste. Of course, they looked at all the options. So the obvious ones are sending into space. Well, if anyone’s seen the videos and the space industry itself builds in a certain redundancy that certain rockets will not leave the launch pad or blow up shortly after take off, that’s too high a risk if you’re carrying nuclear waste on board to scatter highly radioactive materials, over a large geographic area and into the atmosphere, there’s a non-starter as an option.
Roy Payne (08:15):
The other option was dumping in the sea, well that’s already been outlawed for best part of half a century under international law. And we’re already seeing from the Russians in the Bering sea, or having to actually pull back all the nuclear submarines they scuttled because it is an environmental threat. And with Western funding and working in cooperation with the Norwegians, the Russians are beginning to remove the nuclear waste from the sea. So if you can’t go in the sea, can’t be sent into space, land. Now you’ve got to leave it on the surface or you bury it. And I come down to there’s lots of people concerns. What happens if, well, if something happens, if there’s a rupture of a package or a human error, you have a choice that that leak of radioactivity could be straight into the air that we breathe and into the soil that we grow our food in, or it can happen a kilometer underground, a long, long way away from us.
Roy Payne (09:11):
So you’ve got to, you either react instantly to an immediate problem that’s poisoning you immediately, or you buy yourself potentially 10,000 years to sort out a solution, should there ever be a need to find a solution? So the geological disposal is rooted in very basic common sense. We have this waste, we need to dispose of it safely. The easiest, safest, and environmentally sound way is to bury it deep underground. If we look at a geological repository, there are certain standards which is that all communities agree to. It must be at least 200 meters underground. Now that’s to allow for glacier scouring of the surface, because much of this material, there’s likely to be several ice ages before it ceases to be harmful to the environment and to humans. So we need to allow for surface scouring, it can go up to about a kilometer deep, because any deeper, the heat of the earth itself would not allow the materials to go down.
Roy Payne (10:08):
So there is this sort of sweet area, but also the rock you build it in, but in different types of rock, but you’ve got to be high degree of satisfaction. There are no fractures, there’s no water coming to the surface. It’s a very particular type of geology. And that’s why identifying a proper site for a repository can be so difficult and time consuming because of the detailed geological analysis that you have to do to actually ascertain, is this a safe piece of rock in which to build a repository and bury our waste. Then the waste itself. Most people sadly around the world, and it’s not a joke, it’s not funny, but most people take their cue of what is radioactive waste from the opening shots of the Simpsons: it’s green gooey stuff. People are worried that it’s going to come percolating up through their drains and into their homes.
Roy Payne (11:01):
Now, sadly, there are real world examples of such things happening. So no, this is not irrational fear, its paged on currencies around the world, there’s similar things happening. But the waste is solidified, its packed inside a very secure steel box that you can stand beside for the next hundred years and you would not have any radioactive. They’re put in these boxes and then like Lego bricks they’re stacked on top of each other in a deep underground chamber. And then when it’s full, you just set it up and leave it alone. It’s effectively, we took uranium from the earth, we’re returning a radioactive waste uranium back to the earth in a safe space where it can basically just biodegrade. It can cease to be a threat or a risk. And by the time you’ve used the manmade engineered barriers and the natural barrier, a rock, over a hundred thousand years, there’s going to be no radioactivity impacting the environment and humans living there.
Roy Payne (12:00):
I think the other issue with keeping on the surface is can we, do we have a high degree of confidence that humans can manage this dangerous material for 10,000, 100,000 years continuously? And can they do that without ever making a mistake? Now its maybe possible to minimize those risks, but it’s very unlikely that we are going to be able to sustain this as a society. I mean, we have history only goes back 4 or 5,000 years. We’re talking timescales, which are beyond our comprehension. And therefore the safest thing to do is to dispose of it safely in a deep geological facility. And that’s what the world scientific community and world governments. What’s quite interesting here is despite the unpopularity of the proposal, politicians and governments around the world have all signed up to it. Occasionally politicians do the right thing. They don’t do something that’s unpopular without some degree of necessity. So I think there’s a lack of trust in politicians, but if they’re proposing something that seems very unpopular, then perhaps you should actually be listening to them that on occasion, politicians will promote unpopular policy because it’s the right thing to do.
Kari Hulac (13:16):
There’s a quote on the homepage of the GDFWatch website that says this issue goes to the core of who we are as a society, our morality, and our maturity. Some of what you just said, kind of leads into this, I believe. Tell us who said that. And could you explain how you see the nuclear waste disposal issues being one is at the core of who we are.
Roy Payne (13:43):
Well I came up with that particular quote cause it actually summed up what I think and feel, and it’s not just about nuclear waste. It’s really about the sort of times we’re in and the challenges that we face as a species on a very small planet. So we look at climate change, there are all sorts of issues. We’ve got an energy crisis at the moment. There are all sorts of resource issues. And we have lived in a society, particularly the west, that makes very short-term decisions. It’s driven by the next election. And so a lot of the things that we need to address, fundamental challenges that we face as a country, as a planet, as a species need long-term thinking, and we need to start planning longer term. So nuclear waste for me is potentially the most difficult subject that we have to deal with.
Roy Payne (14:35):
It’s basically, we’ve made a pile of nuclear poo and we need to actually manage that and get rid of it. We can’t build a greener future and look for an environmentally sustainable future unless we clear up the mess that we’ve made in the past. Now, nobody, nobody alive now asked for this mess. Nobody wanted this mess, but it’s there. There is no magic fairy with a wand to make it disappear. And we have a choice. And so for me, it’s very important that we start taking responsibility now for the consequences of our own actions, rather than as we tend to do as a culture, as a society, kickball manyana, manyana, we’ll just keep moving this forward. At some point, we actually have to start addressing this issue and in doing so in terms of the community engagement, the relationship between communities, local politicians, staff with government obligations, perhaps it’s a model that we can start working through that will help us address other bigger challenges that face us, because it seems to me, again, a lot of our challenges we’re facing are planetary and it can be very difficult for people when a decision is made on an international level, how that filters down.
Roy Payne (15:55):
How local communities are impacted isn’t always explained to them. So if we can find new methods and ways of engaging with people at our local level, so they understand their contribution to a global challenge, we can also start identifying solutions to other problems as well.
Kari Hulac (16:13):
Thank you. So given your work with the UK government, what has the UK learned about geological disposal from its neighbors across Europe? Maybe could give an overview of what the other countries are doing, share some takeaways. For example, there’s the first spent fuel geologic repository, Onkalo in Finland, Sweden’s making progress. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the significance of this.
Roy Payne (16:45):
I think from a technical perspective, everybody’s learning from everybody else. And I think it’s probably one of the, the nuclear sector doesn’t get applauded very much, but I do think in terms of bringing together the best scientific and academic minds, focusing in on problems, sharing knowledge, establishing common standards, the nuclear sector in some ways is a paradigm for a world that is more connected and facing longer challenges. If you ever go to the IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agencies, HQ in Vienna for me, I went there once and it just seemed like Star Trek academy. You were bringing in people from all cultures to focus in on one thing and all of them commit to doing it as safely as possible. So the nuclear sector is very good technically, a lot of knowledge is shared. Where there seems to be what I consider to be a shortfall is understanding the communities in which they’re trying to operate.
Roy Payne (17:48):
And if you look around Europe at the moment, yes, Finland is more advanced, but the Finns have a very different political culture to the UK, to Sweden, to Germany. In Finland, there’s a high degree of trust. They’re a technocracy, they trust their politicians, they trust their academics. And if the academics and politicians say, this is the right thing to do, Finns will largely trust them to do so. The Swedes have progress, but again, they’re in a Sweden, very different culture, political culture, high degree of trust at a local level. Also a sense of responsibility that the citizens, any community has to support the nation because it’s a small nation, small population. And there’s a greater sense of modularity support. You come to the UK where there’s a high degree of skepticism about politics. It is a very fractured political system, very contentious political system, much harder to get agreement and secure agreement.
Roy Payne (18:52):
And the processes, all of the countries bought into consent based, but all have taken different models. So in the UK, that was a survey of the UK geology putting together all the known information. It wasn’t too identifying where it could be built. It was to identify where it couldn’t be built. And most of the country geologically is a potential host geology for a repository. In Germany they took a slightly different approach, a much more aggressive approach in the sense of identifying areas, which were clearly better. And the Germans have gone for where is the best geology, rather than just focusing on where it couldn’t work, where is the best geology, and then starting a discussion with the communities in those areas. This is what we’re trying to do and explain it. So every country is approaching very similar within its own political.
Roy Payne (19:51):
And I think there’s more that can be learned from these experiences. I think generally speaking, the whole geological disposal in terms of sociopolitical dimensia, there’s insufficient collaboration around the world. Very often, I’ve been around the world and spoken to people from Asia, from across Europe, North America, each community feels like somehow they become the focus of their federal national government who want to come and do something terrible to them. That sends up a very strong, negative resistance, as you would expect, if anybody came in wanting to impose themselves on you, or you feel that you’re being imposed upon, you react badly. But I don’t think people fully realize, it’s only when you start talking to people, is this is a global problem. If somebody makes an error with their waste, it’s not just the locality where the waste escapes, it will get into the atmosphere.
Roy Payne (20:48):
It will travel on the weeds. There is going to be implications for all of this radioactive fallout. It doesn’t know boundaries or borders. So we all have a vested interest in managing this waste safely. And we will have a vested interest in ensuring that when it is done, we know where that’s being buried and that there’s a collective memory. I think that’s probably easier done if it’s seen as an international approach rather than as a sort of local community responsibility. And I also think more broadly we’re moving into a world, look around us now, the values of younger generations across cultures are much more aligned. The challenges that they perceive are climate change and the future of the species and radioactive waste management is part of that media. It’s not a thing on its own. And so again, if we’re looking about building a sustainable future, being more thoughtful about how we interact with the environment, one of the first things we need to do is to take responsibility for the mess that we already have here to make sure that started up.
Kari Hulac (22:02):
Do you think that younger generation will help? Will they be more willing to deal with this, even though it, as you said, has been passed onto them from decades ago? What do you feel when you speak to younger people, do you, what’s the pulse of their thoughts on this?
Roy Payne (22:20):
Generally speaking, because it’s not a subject that’s widely spoken about. It’s one of those: radioactive waste. Most subjects, when you raise something, if you don’t know something, can you meet somebody? You ask question, do you want to find out more? But when you raise this up, radioactive waste, people tend to say I don’t need to know anything about that, I don’t want to ever think about that. They don’t even want to engage in a conversation. But younger people because of the challenges they’re facing, because the culture that, that environment they’re growing up in are, I mean, yes, they resent the burdens being placed upon them and that they feel that they’ve got to take responsibility for, but there’s a much more willingness to understand this isn’t an issue that must be gripped. It is in their interests to actually grip.
Roy Payne (23:10):
To some extent nuclear waste when it’s just stored in surface facilities is actually a negative use of taxpayers’ money. It’s inert. It just builds a box and it sits there for a hundred years until the next box is required. Whereas actually, if you’ve vetted the GDF, you create jobs, you create economic opportunities. And there is actually, it’s making a valuable contribution to the health and safety of the planet as well. So my general sort of observation of younger people is that they are a lot more responsible collectively for the future of the planet than their parents or grandparents generations are. And that they are much more prepared to engage in a discussion about this because it’s their futures which were at stake.
Kari Hulac (24:05):
Do you think if Onkalo, assuming it’s successful, will that move things forward maybe more quickly now that finally a deep geologic repository will be actually operating, people can see that it’s safe. You know, what will it mean when that finally is a reality?
Roy Payne (24:22):
I think it, it will help because it will show that it can be done. We’ve got to bear in mind, there is actually already an operational facility in the United States, WIPP, wasn’t meant to be a long-term. WIPP has already shown its value instantly. In 2018, a package, which only weeks before had been stored on the surface, ruptured. Now the radioactive leak was contained on the ground. How’d that happen, you know, in the open air or where it was previously stored, it could have been an environmental and public health catastrophe, at least it’s 400 meters underground. They may not be able to revisit or use that part of the repository ever again, but nobody was harmed and there was no risk. There was no escape of radioactivity. So it did show the value of repository. If there is debate, if an incident does occur, much better than it cause deep underground in a closed environment, rather than on the surface where it affects the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil of which we grow our food.
Roy Payne (25:21):
So it will help, but I think its going to be a long process. It’s not just Onkalo. And what’s going to be interesting is looking at the number of countries that are coming behind, and it will be one of those people moving in different paces. That you have Germany, France, the UK, Canada, United States, China, Russia. These are in various stages of development. There’ll come a point where there’s 10, 20, 30 repositories being built simultaneously around the world. And we may be 20, 30 years away from that, but there will come a point where these are being built everywhere. I think as ever been so much with life, other issues, people are sort of reluctant. If they’re just one example, there’s two examples, but when there’s 20 or 30 examples, suddenly everyone’s a lot more relaxed about it, but Onkalo is important in just taking that step forward.
Kari Hulac (26:19):
Now let’s talk about the other side of the coin. Building a large deep mined repository may not be feasible for some countries, for example, countries with small nuclear waste inventories. So can you expand upon what some of their concerns are in such cases?
Roy Payne (26:39):
Yeah, I mean, the UK is a very good example. The UK has probably one of the vastest, the most diverse waste inventories of any country on earth. We were pioneers of nuclear for both civil and military purposes. So both given the volumes and the diversity of the waste, there is both fiscal and environmental sense in bearing it in one location. And we’re also an island. We got limited space to bury waste across the UK. Boreholes would litter the country, just politically unacceptable, but there are other countries and you think of countries like South Africa or the Baltic states that only have one reactor, they have a much more limited waste profile. You have other countries like Slovenia Croatia that share a facility, but each is under coverage rules. Each is obliged to build its own repository, even though there’s only one facility.
Roy Payne (27:38):
So there probably is potential scope saying actually just in terms of cost, its also the carbon footprint of building a geological repository. I don’t know, I’ve never looked at the numbers, but can only assume that drilling a borehole is a lot less carbon intensive than building a full scale repository. So for a variety of reasons, environmental, financial, as well as ethical, I can see that there may be examples where smaller waste inventories can be disposed of through built borehole drilling rather than requiring countries to go to the expense of building a very large facility to store very little waste, particularly where two countries, they have to do exactly the same facility for a shared amount of waste. And I don’t think we should also lose sight if you read a lot of African and Asian media now, the whole issue around not just radioactive waste, but waste generally. These countries may not develop civil nuclear programs, but every country now uses MRI scanners.
Roy Payne (28:44):
There are medical applications, there are industrial applications, there’s academic research, which produces very small, but nevertheless, quantities of higher activity radioactive waste. Now you’re not going to require somebody who’s got a tiny amount of radioactive waste to build a deep geological repository. Again, if we, as a community, as a society, want to have advanced mechanics, want to have advanced industries, but one of the consequences is there is some high level radioactive waste. Those countries are going to have to find solutions. And so I can see how deep boreholes would actually potentially provide a solution, cost effective and environmentally sound solution, to that issue. But while repositories tend to be, if you’ve got a large volume, it just makes sense to bury it. So the UK, France, Russia, America probably will stand in those, but that’s not to say that there isn’t a parallel.
Roy Payne (29:43):
And I think the German Green party or the only Green party I’m aware of it, support geological disposal. And there’s an issue around that because as far as I’m aware, the laws of the universe apply equally in Germany as they do in any other country. But they see both as the least worst solution. IAEA talks about the best available. Well, those are the same thing, the best available at the least worst, depending on your perspective, are exactly the same thing. And of course, we all keep open the option that if somebody comes out with even better solutions, if scientists and technology and future technology means that we can deal with waste in a different way, brilliant, that will work, but we can’t just wait and hope. We haven’t yet found a cure for the common cold. So we can’t just rely upon science or just have a faith that some others will be sold for us. We can take responsibility now, start taking actions now and find solutions which actually meet the environmental, financial, and ethical needs of every community. And some of those borehole may be the way forward.
Kari Hulac (30:54):
I’d love to hear a little bit about your background as a community activist in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I know you’ve learned to build bridges of trust between opposing groups and that skills likely very helpful in what you ended up doing in your career, you know, advising governments on communicating with stakeholders and communities on waste disposal. So what advice do you give governments to help them be more effective in finding a solution?
Roy Payne (31:20):
The most key one is to listen. You know, you pull it down to basic human relationships. If you want to build a relationship with somebody, you don’t sit down and just talk about yourself the whole evening long, you do have to listen to what the other person thinks and feels. So I do worry sometimes that the nuclear sector, because it is partly academic tend to see this as a massive STEM exercise. If we just teach stupid people about the science, they will understand it, but that’s not how communities and people operate. If you look around now, the issues around vaccination and we are living in a world where there’s a lack of political trust, and there’s a lack of faith in science or people are prepared to listen to whatever homespun ideas happen to come their way. They’re willing to be brave to them.
Roy Payne (32:14):
So a question is listening to people, it is about sometimes going the extra mile, going on meandering. You’re not just going from A to B. You might have to get from A to B, you may have to go through a whole other alphabet to get to the final point, but you need to go on that journey. And even if people are raising issues, which you think are ridiculous, besides the point, they’re important to them. And if you want to take them on the journey with you, you’re going to have to go on that journey with them. And I think the other issue is trust, trust is a two way thing. And at the moment, governments, politicians, the nuclear sector, these are not high on the trust barometers of most people in most countries. There’s also a degree of lack of trust or fear in authorities or letting go too much power and engaging with the community, which to some extent you have to show a bit of trust to receive, to start building trust.
Roy Payne (33:20):
And to some extent, I think it’s probably beholding on the governments and the nuclear sectors to actually take the first steps. We’re the ones asking people to dance with us. So you have to make the first steps to actually ask somebody to dance with you. And therefore you have to show and give a little bit more rather than being defensive, concerned about how that is going to happen. And I think one of the other issues we’ll meet with people in the nuclear sector, I’ve worked in many different sectors: telecomms, broadcasting, media, sport, lots of different commercial sectors, and they will have their own profile and characteristics and ways of thinking and behaving. And I do think nuclear sector, quite rightly, there’s a mindset of risk mitigation, managing risk out and really focusing on managing risk out which is entirely the right approach when it comes to the matter of nuclear, but you can’t apply that same discipline and that same rigor when it comes to people.
Roy Payne (34:25):
People are not radionuclides, do not perform in the same way at the same conditions in all circumstances. And I think there was a need for sort of, again, government and nuclear sector to perhaps they’re going to have to get used to operating outside their comfort zone in areas where we were making judgment calls about how you relate to people, to manage people for people that you can never ever get to the level of risk assurance that you can when you’re actually designing a nuclear reactor or a nuclear waste disposal facility, simply because people don’t feel that way. So my advice to governments is really to listen, be a little bit more giving to trust your communities a little bit more and to be prepared to go on a long amble to the countryside, because rather than trying to get them to make a decision as quickly as possible.
Kari Hulac (35:25):
It’s a journey. That’s what I’m hearing, a long one. Anything I did not ask today that you’d like to close out our conversation with Roy?
Roy Payne (35:35):
I’ve worked with people who work in it, you know, from around the world. I have no doubt of the integrity, the honesty and the earnestness of all those people working radioactive waste, they are doing absolutely the best thing. That’s what we can see. Being somebody who is got the science behind you, it doesn’t mean that people will actually believe you. And to some extent the suspension of trust. So how do you build trust? Now, one of the things for me is one of the things that is not happening at the moment is unmediated connections between the communities who are likely to be impacted by this, one thing we do see for right and for wrong, for good and for bad is that people are much more willing to accept the perspective of someone who’s just like them, who doesn’t seem to have a vested interest.
Roy Payne (36:28):
And so the common human experience of potentially hosting a radioactive waste facility is the same on planet earth. And I do think there’s more that can be done just to allow the impacted communities to talk together, to meet, to share experience, to share their concerns, their fears, their worries. Science, central to science issues comes up in each country and each time you have to revalidate it. Well, the science, you know, copper corrodes in the same way, in the same conditions in Sweden, as it does in Germany, as it does in Argentina. These are the rules of the universe. There’s probably scope here, I think what more could be done by the idea of globalizing this issue rather than seeing it as a national problem, to globalize the issue. If you’re more likely to get people winning to progress discussions, if they’re talking with people who are going through the same experience themselves, a self-help group, if you like, so I think we need just be more sophisticated in the way in which we manage and engage with these communities and not to be frightened by their fears, but actually allow them to share those fears with other people so that it becomes a common understanding. And that I think you will see a lot of the worries, concerns, the barriers will start to shift if you allow people to speak to each other about these issues, rather than trying to over-manage it and see it as purely a sort of STEM and technology exercise. Now, this is a much bigger story about environment, planet, future and local empowerment. People are actually feeling they have some say over the future direction of their own community while also contributing and making a powerful contribution to the safety of the planet.
Kari Hulac (38:33):
Well, thank you so much, Roy. It’s been wonderful talking with you today and thank you for joining us.
Roy Payne (38:38):
Thank you for having me.
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