Governing Nuclear Waste Conference

19. - 20.09.2016


Dear colleagues,

the conference Governing Nuclear Waste took place on September 19 - 20 September, 2016 at the Harnack-Haus, the conference venue of the Max Planck Society in Berlin-Dahlem. The conference looked at the issue of nuclear waste governance from multiple disciplinary perspectives. It focused in particular on the various factors that shape the debate on socially and ethically acceptable pathways for waste governance and siting procedures.

The conference was organized by the Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU) of the Freie Universität Berlin and is part of the activities of the research platform ENTRIA (the acronym stands in German for: Disposal Options for Radioactive Residues: Interdisciplinary Analyses and Development of Evaluation Principles). The conference included two key note lectures, 6 consecutive panels, a study trip to the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie, and a Roundtable Discussion on the topic “Between Science and Politics: the Role of Commissions in Nuclear Waste Governance”. Please click here to download the program (PDF).

Here you find the abstracts of all presentations.

For any further questions please contact Dörte Themann (


Best regards,


Panel Outline

Monday, September 19 

9.00 to 9.30: Welcome and introduction (Miranda Schreurs & Achim Brunnengräber)

9.30 to 11.00:

I. The big picture

Chair: Miranda Schreurs (FFU, Berlin)

- Yannick Barthe (CNRS/EHESS, Paris): Technical democracy and nuclear waste – On the possibilities for democratic decision making in governing nuclear waste

- Andrew Blowers (The Open University, UK): The Legacy of Nuclear Power and what should be done about it.

Coffee Break

11.30 to 13.00:

II.  Historical paths and legacies

Chair: Jan-Henrik Meyer (University of Copenhagen)

- Karena Kalmbach (Technical University Eindhoven): Everything said and done? The role of the humanities and social sciences in Nuclear Waste Governance

- David Fig (Transnational Institute, Amsterdam): Siting as a (neo)colonial project

- Behnam Taebi (Delft University / Harvard Kennedy School): Experimenting with Nuclear Waste- technology as a social experiment

13.00 Lunch

14.00 to 15.30:

III. National specificities of a global problem

Chair: Eckard Rehbinder (Goethe University, Frankfurt a.M.)

- Allison Macfarlane (George Washington University): Scientific uncertainties and political maneuvering – The case of Yucca Mountain

- Anselm Tiggemann (Bundestag, Germany): The elephant in the room – The role of Gorleben in the German nuclear waste debate

- Johan Swahn (MKG - Swedish NGO Office for Waste Review): Becoming the role model?: Sweden’s quest for a nuclear spent fuel repository

Coffee Break

16.00 to 17.30:

IV. Dealing with conflicts (Part I): Stakeholder-Dialogue and Mediation

Chair: Peter Hocke (ITAS, Karlsruhe)

- Silke Freitag (Mediator "HZG in dialogue", Geesthacht): Consensus-oriented stakeholder dialogue: experiences from Geesthacht

- Gordon MacKerron (University of Sussex): Experiences from the “Committee on Radioactive Waste Management”

- Felix Jaitner (University of Vienna): A Global Disposal Site? Perspectives on Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel Management in Russia


Tuesday, September 20

10.00 to 12.00: Visit of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie

Excursion to the Research Reactor BER II and the Landessammelstelle Berlin (ZRA).

13.00 Lunch

14.00 to 16.30:

V. Dealing with conflicts (Part II): Acceptance, Voluntarism and Compensation

Chair: Maria Rosaria Di Nucci (FFU, Berlin)

-Martin Steinebrunner (Deutsche Koordinationsstelle Schweizer Tiefenlager, DKST): The Experience of the Swiss Negotiated Approach

- Philip Johnstone (University of Sussex): The evolution of nuclear waste governance in the UK: exploring the broader democratic context

- Anne Bergmans (University of Antwerp): The catch 22 of nuclear communities: How to create room for technical democracy if opting out is not an option?

- Markku Lehtonen (EHESS, Paris): Voluntarism and compensation in French and Finnish nuclear waste governance strategies: A comparison

- Daniel Häfner (FFU, Berlin): Lessons Learned


Coffee Break


17.00 to 17.30: Five years ENTRIA, 30 years FFU and 1 million years of solitude

- Lutz Mez (FFU, Berlin): 30 Years Nuclear Energy Research at the FFU

- Klaus-Jürgen Röhlig (Technische Universität Clausthal): Five years ENTRIA-Platform


17.30 to 19.00: Roundtable:

Between Science and Politics: the Role of Commissions in Nuclear Waste Governance.

Allison Macfarlane, Gordon MacKerron, Michael Müller, Miranda Schreurs


19.00 to 21.00: Dinner and come together




Zeit & Ort

19. - 20.09.2016

Harnack-Haus, Ihnestraße 16-20, 14195 Berlin