Thank you for this invitation to review and comment on the developing plans and activities of NWMO. I admire your policy of inviting feedback from individuals and groups outwith of your panel(s) of experts, and hope you will find my contribution adds some new awareness to your work.
My thoughts on the issue of rad.waste and indeed the whole nuclear subject, draws especially on the phrase you use, of ... "assessing ... changes in societal values and evolving public policy".
In the first instance, I would dearly like to offer the basic comment that while we have an excellent knowledge of the physics of the atom, we remain dismissive and shy about the metaphysics of the atom. This comment can equally well be worded as ... we have an excellent knowledge of the objective nature of nuclear power, but carefully ignore and even frown on discussions about the subjective qualities and effects of nuclear power.
My interest and concern for the nuclear subject leads me to believe that we need to know both the objective and subjective aspects of this subject. Because - together they provide us with insight of the "holographic nature" of the Atomic World and indeed, of our Universe.
This is largely what I mean by ... "changes in societal values". Whereas it was acceptable at an earlier period for 'scientific knowledge' to stand alone, there is now a national and international insistence that social and spiritual values have equal consideration in how we look at and consider events and processes going on in our world.
I find this modern impulse for an whole or holistic view of phenomena applies as much to our nuclear work as to any other subject ... so I am surprised to find that this whole view gets so little attention by the nuclear industry.
I would mention that I worked as a geologist in the NWT, searching for uranium. That work acquainted me with the physics of nuclear energy. Later, I worked on a site investigation at Dounreay, home for fast-breeder reactors here in Scotland. The site investigation was to test the hydrology and geology of this site, with an underground repository in mind. While I was at Dounreay, I sought (with a geologist's curiosity) to experience the feeling of radiation: at the level where the effect was available, radiation felt to me like enormous sadness, touched maybe with despair. This is some of what I mean by being interested in the 'metaphysics'. Our present view of nuclear power falls short of a complete knowledge because it ignores subjective effects - like the feeling of radiation, and ignores the symbolic and social and spiritual nature of the nuclear processes, which on their own indicate that the atomic particles are far more sentient than we have so far cared or dared to consider.
It is not easy to look both ways at our work with nuclear power. For historical reasons, we have trained ourselves to focus on the objective nature of the particle world. This only shows us one aspect of what is there. Look with both side of our "dual processor" brain and the similarity of the behaviour of the atomic particles, to our own behaviour ... in similar situations ... becomes apparent. This is a typical feature of the holographic principle. If your team, your organisation can see this stereoscopic view, then it allows some new ideas and thinking to come into the rad.waste treatment issue. The potential we have to create some kind of remedial treatment for the fissioned particles begins to loom large on the horizon - in the first place, of our imagination.
Thanks for the space to post these thoughts. I've a web site nucleargodeeper.com which elaborates on this whole promising way of looking at the nuclear subject.
Ian Turnbull. Findhorn. Scotland.