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Transdisciplinary Research on Radioactive Waste Management

Transdisciplinary Research on Radioactive Waste Management


Collaborative project focuses on responsible and safe disposal of radioactive waste

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony (MWK) will provide funding for the collaborative project TRANSENS, the first large scale project in Germany to conduct transdisciplinary research on radioactive waste management. Coordinated by Clausthal University of Technology, TRANSENS comprises 16 institutes and academic disciplines from nine German universities, as well as two universities and research facilities in Switzerland. Leibniz University Hannover is represented by the Institute of Radioecology and Radiation Protection and the Institute of Materials Science.

The project partners will gather for a kick-off event from 15 to 17 January 2020 in Goslar. The project is scheduled for an initial period of five years and aims to conduct application-oriented research on responsible and safe radioactive waste disposal. The involved research facilities bring together considerable expertise in natural sciences and technical engineering as well as in social issues. Based in Lower Saxony, Leibniz University Hannover, Clausthal University of Technology, and TU Braunschweig provide highly qualified research teams from the fields of radiation protection, radioecology, nuclear waste repository research, geomechanics, soil mechanics, structural engineering, and materials science.

"The researchers will focus on disposal strategies, safety, fairness, and trust", explains spokesperson Professor Klaus-Jürgen Röhlig from Clausthal University of Technology. Within the scope of citizen science, the project aims to involve members of the public and other non-academic stakeholders into the research process. "The work group 'Population' will play a significant role", announces Professor Clemens Walther, deputy spokesperson of TRANSENS and head of the Institute of Radioecology and Radiation Protection at Leibniz University Hannover. Furthermore, the project aims to train junior researchers in order to preserve and share knowledge. In addition to a work package investigating the role of trust regarding retrieval options, Clemens Walther is in charge of the work package "Training".

Overall, TRANSENS will receive 15 million euros of funding, 3.75 million euros of which will be provided by "Niedersächsisches Vorab", an initiative of the Volkswagen Foundation. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy promotes application-oriented fundamental research on radioactive waste disposal irrespective of location. To this effect, TRANSENS intends to establish academic foundations and distinguish itself from research projects directly related to finding locations for nuclear waste repositories as well as the procedure itself and the respective involvement of the public.