Citizens Working Group (AGBe)

The Citizens’ Working Group (AGBe) is currently composed of 16 citizens from different regions of Germany. The nine women and seven men - all of whom are not stakeholders with regard to the topic of final disposal - represent different age, educational and professional groups and were recruited in a multi-stage and criteria-driven process (for more details, see recruitment report). The AGBe represents a central element within the transdisciplinary research in TRANSENS and is intended to reflect topics along the radioactive waste management pathway. As an "extended peer community" it shall contribute to the joint development of new knowledge by scientists and civil society actors (see glossary entry Co-Production).






'Co-Design' refers to the common definition of the research project in transdisciplinary research. This is based on the assumption that a topic such as the one at hand in TRANSENS can be understood quite differently depending on the perspective and can therefore be defined differently. To put it simply, a topic/problem can be defined from a research logic, e.g. by wanting to contribute to theory development in a certain discipline. However, one can also define the same problem from a societal perspective, for example, by focusing on practical solutions. As a consequence, the issues are different. Under 'co-design' conditions, researchers and practitioners would jointly determine the 'problem', which may require an intensive process of understanding.






In connection with transdisciplinary research, the term 'co-production' is used. It refers to the joint development of knowledge by researchers from different disciplines and actors from civil society, business and government. Two processes intertwine: a scientific process of knowledge production and a social process of problem solving.





Confinement providing rock zone (ewG)

The Site Selection Act defines the confinement providing rock zone (ewG) as the "part of a rock mass which, in the case of repository systems that are essentially based on geological barriers, ensures the safe containment of radioactive waste in a repository in interaction with the engineered and geotechnical seals." This describes an essential feature of the safety concept for a repository: Geology is essential for waste containment. The Site Selection Act also allows for another option: "For the host rock crystalline rock, [...] an alternative concept to a confinement-effective rock mass area is possible for safe confinement, which places significantly higher requirements on the long-term integrity of the repository." In such a case, the most important role of the geologic environment is not to ensure containment itself, but to ensure a mechanically, hydraulically, and chemically stable environment for the cask.





Focus group

A focus group is a planned discussion accompanied by professional moderation. The focus is on the participants' assessments and expectations as well as on the open play-through of jointly developed considerations. Sorting out thematic concepts and developing creative perspectives and ideas is at the heart of conducting and planning a focus group. Scientifically, it is about observing the structured discussion of an interactive group. Methodologically, it is an established instrument of empirical social research. From the starting point, it can be understood as a combination of elements of a focused interview and a discussion group. Focus groups can be conducted with a wide variety of groups of people. Scientists and highly specialized experts belong to this group as well as stakeholders and laypersons.

Further reading

Barbour, Rosaline S. (2018): Doing focus groups. 2nd edition. Edited by Uwe Flick, Los Angeles: SAGE (The SAGE qualitative research kit).

Krueger, Richard A.; Casey, Mary Anne (2015): Focus groups. A practical guide for applied research. 5th edition. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE.

Schulz, Marlen; Mack, Birgit; Renn, Ortwin (2012): Focus groups in empirical social science. From conception to evaluation. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften

Steyaert, Stef; Lisoir, Hervé; Nentwich, Michael (2006): Guide to participatory procedures. A handbook for practice. Ed. by Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA). Austrian Academy of Sciences. Vienna.





Passive safety (after repository closure).

Safety that is not dependent on human actions (e.g., monitoring or repairs) or technical precautions requiring a power supply, but is provided solely by the characteristics and interaction of the geologic, geotechnical, and technical components of the repository system.

The term is often used synonymously or together with that of freedom from maintenance.





Safety Case

Internationally used term for a report that describes and documents the safety of a repository during construction, emplacement ("repository operation"), decommissioning, and after closure. The Safety Case is developed step by step together with the safety concept, the repository concept and according to the respective state of research and exploration. This means that the Safety Case also systematically refers to open questions and uncertainties; it is an important basis for decisions regarding the further procedure. Decisions based on the Safety Case may concern:

  • The exploration (from above or below ground) of a region or site, or the selection of a site. In Germany, the Site Selection Act requires so-called "preliminary safety investigations" for these decisions, the concept of which corresponds to those of the Safety Case.
  • The selection of one or more repository concepts for further development or optimization.
  • The construction (start of construction) of a repository. In Germany, this requires a license according to § 9b(1a) of the Atomic Energy Act in the case of a repository for highly radioactive waste. In the BMU's draft on safety requirements for final disposal, the safety case that is then required bears the designation "Safety Report" in accordance with the Nuclear Licensing Procedure Ordinance.
  • The start of emplacement ("final repository operation").
  • The continuation of repository operation - this requires periodic safety reviews in accordance with Section 19a (3) and (4) of the Atomic Energy Act.
  • The start of closure.
  • Programs for site exploration and/or research and development.

Common names for the safety case in national repository programs are 'total system performance analysis' (USA), 'dossier de sûreté' (France), 'säkerhetsanalys' (Sweden), 'safety case' (Switzerland) and 'estudio de seguridad' (Spain).

The OECD/NEA'Safety Case Brochure' sets out methodological principles of the safety case. The International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA has developed a safety standard on the Safety Case. Both documents are mainly concerned with safety after closure of a repository (long-term safety). In advanced repository programs, the presentation of safety during construction, operation and decommissioning is also an essential component of the safety case and a licensing requirement, cf. e.g. the French report on repository operation (2016).





Site Selection Act (StandAG)

The search for a site for the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste in Germany is regulated by law. The Site Selection Act of 2017 stipulates that "The site selection procedure is intended to identify a site with the best possible safety for a final disposal facility [...] in the Federal Republic of Germany in a participatory, science-based, transparent, self-questioning and learning procedure for domestically generated high-level radioactive waste. The site with the best possible safety is the site determined in the course of a comparative procedure from the sites suitable in the respective phase according to the relevant requirements of this Act [...]. The determination of the site is targeted for the year 2031."

An essential basis of the Act is the final report of the Commission on the Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Waste ("Final Repository Commission") from 2016.





Theme corridor

Transdisciplinary research in TRANSENS takes place in the four transdisciplinary work packages (TAP), DIPRO, HAFF, SAFE and TRUST. In terms of content, the TAPs stand for so-called thematic corridors. The term topic corridor is used to illustrate the special features of the transdisciplinary research approach. A topic corridor is defined by an overarching research question. The term characterizes the fact that topic selection and breadth can still be subject to change during transdisciplinary research. In the corridor there is room for communication, cooperation and understanding, which can be used and developed depending on the progress of the transdisciplinary process. This also means coming to an understanding with non-specialists (actors in practice) at an advanced or later stage of the project about individual research questions, objects and approaches.





Transdisciplinary research

Transdisciplinary (td) researchis the guiding research principle of TRANSENS. In essence, this means problem-oriented basic research. Knowledge from different bodies of knowledge is integrated, i.e. not only knowledge that is generated in the university, but also knowledge that is generated in a dialogue with society.

In the literature, different and not always compatible explanations of the term transdisciplinary research can be found. The joint project TRANSENS is based on the understanding that transdisciplinarity and thus transdisciplinary research is a reflexive, integrative, method-guided scientific principle, which is directed towards solving a social problem and scientific challenges related to it (in the case of TRANSENS: the safe and acceptable disposal of highly radioactive waste). In addition to scientists, non-specialists and practical actors are also involved in the research practice.Transdisciplinarity always includes interdisciplinarity, as cooperation between several disciplines within universities; but it goes beyond this.

It is intended to take into account different kinds of knowledge and expectations, to develop research questions together, and to enable mutual learning. In this context, the term co-design/problem framing also refers to the joint definition of the research project. Co-production, on the other hand, refers to knowledge production; this means that new knowledge is generated jointly by scientists and practitioners.

In TRANSENS, the initial problem definition took place between the participating research groups, i.e. it was interdisciplinary. Transdisciplinary research takes place in the four TAPs DIPROHAFFSAFE and TRUST. It is distinguished from transdisciplinarity research (also: Begleitforschung), which deals with transdisciplinary research as a research object.