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Managing Radioactive Waste Safely

Managing Radioactive Waste Safely: the role of the Geological Society

4 September 2012

Since 2006, the Geological Society has undertaken various activities to help inform the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) programme.

Providing advice on matters of ‘science for policy’ is an important part of the Society’s work. In doing so, we seek to avoid prescriptive statements on matters of judgment, and to represent the balance and variety of geological opinion so far as we are aware of it. We are also careful not to speak on non-geoscientific matters. For this reason, we are keen to play our part in ensuring that the use of geoscience within the MRWS process is planned and implemented as effectively as possible.

We do not (and should not) comment on wider aspects of policy, such as the place of voluntarism in the process. The Society’s activities relating to MRWS have included organising technical conferences; convening meetings aimed at informing the non-technical public about relevant aspects of geoscience; responding to consultations by government and others such as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA); holding briefing meetings at which the NDA or others involved in delivering the MRWS programme can ask questions of individual Fellows (members) of the Geological Society with relevant specialist expertise; and suggesting such individuals within the Fellowship who might participate in the process in other ways such as the peer review of technical reports.

As in other areas of policy-relevant science, this work depends on the volunteered effort of the Fellows of the Society. Fellows who help with these activities include those who have had direct involvement in radioactive waste management programmes in the UK and elsewhere, and others who have not but who have relevant geoscientific expertise. They do so in an individual capacity, not as representatives of the Society.

All Fellows of the Geological Society are encouraged to contribute to responses we make to consultations. In making any contribution, Fellows are asked to identify their relevant expertise and experience. A description of the procedure for generating and signing off consultation responses and other public statements of the Geological Society can be found at

All Fellows, without distinction, are bound by the Society’s Code of Conduct which, among other matters, requires them to recognise and acknowledge the limitations of their own knowledge and professional competence, and not to presume to have expertise in fields other than their own. The Code of Conduct can be found at R/FP/7.