The main objective of this paper is to identify conditions which affect public concern (either increase or decrease) and political acceptance for developing and implementing programmes for geologic disposal of long-lived radioactive waste. It also looks how citizens and relevant actors can be associated in the decision making process in such a way that their input is enriching the outcome towards a more socially robust and sustainable solution. Finally, it aims at learning from the interaction how to optimise risk management addressing needs and expectations of the public and of other relevant stakeholders. In order to meet these objectives, factors of relevance for societal acceptance conditions are identified, described and analysed. Subsequently these factors are looked for in the real world of nuclear waste management through cases in several countries. The analysis is conducted for six stages of a repository programme and implementation process, from policy development to the realisation of the repository itself. The diversity of characteristics of such contexts increases insight in the way society and values of reference are influencing technological decision making. These interrelated factors need to be integrated in step by step decision making processes as emerging the last years in HLW disposal management. In the conclusions, the effect of each factor on acceptance is derived from the empirical record. In the course of carrying out this analysis, it became clear that acceptance had a different meaning in the first three stages of the process, more generic and therefore mainly discussed at policy level and the other stages, by nature more site-specific, and therefore requesting both public and political acceptance. Experience as clearly addressed in this report has shown that a feasible solution has its technical dimension but that “an acceptable solution” always will have a combined technical and social dimension. If the paper provides tentative answers to the central question how factors affect public and political acceptance, it also aims at illustrating the added value of broadening the technical dimension with social dialogue and insight in value judgements.

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