Task 3.2 The impact of the inclusion of microbiology on expert conceptualization and public perception of geological disposal

Geological disposal is a challenge where social and technical aspects blend and where thorough input from social science with regard to the design, implementation and post-construction management of the installation is required. In this task, the impact of the inclusion of microbiology on conceptualization (part 1) and perception (part 2) of geological disposal will be identified and analysed.

1) Part 1: Expert conceptualisation

Geological disposal is typically presented as a passive isolation strategy for long term radioactive waste management, while a microbial influenced environment can be considered as continuously dynamic on a range of scales and time spans. Part 1 of this Task will study potential differences in the understanding and presentation of geological disposal, depending on the exclusion or inclusion of microbiology in the knowledge production and evaluation process.

2) Part 2: Public perception

Part 2 of this Task will evaluate whether people’s risk perception of geological disposal changes depending on their knowledge about the host environment and microbial processes. In addition, risk communication with the general public and informed civil society will be studied, taking into account the scientific uncertainties, the risk perceptions and the specifics related to the biotic vs. abiotic environment of the repository. The outcome of this study will support the design of a common communication strategy for project details during and after implementation.