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5.2 Components of long term stewardship

Many aspects of long term stewardship are intended to maintain the long term protectiveness of the remedy. The treatment of these aspects is placed in perspective by putting stewardship into the larger context of life cycle management. Components of long term stewardship therefore should include:

  • Management (see Section 5.2.1). It should be clear, that during the life cycle of site management, the stewardship will encompass an extremely broad range of issues and activities. Some of these may be relatively transient in character (e.g., a time frame of a few years), others will specifically envisage timescales of centuries or even millennia (e.g., performance hopes for containment under prevailing environmental conditions).
  • Institutional/Administrative controls (see Section 5.2.2). Control exposure to hazardous substances by establishing (governmental) controls and providing legal enforcement tools. It is recommended that institutional control activities defined for a remediated site where restrictions are maintained after remediation has been completed should be included in a monitoring and surveillance plan that should be subject to periodical review and to approval by the competent authority, including:
    • Governmental controls,
    • Proprietary controls,
    • Physical/Engineered controls implemented to treat or stabilize contamination, to physically contain or isolate waste, or to prevent access.
  • Maintenance (see Section5.2.3). Support maintenance of engineered controls to guide decisions on when and how to modify long term stewardship activities.
  • Monitoring (see Section 5.2.4). Ongoing environmental monitoring to determine the effectiveness of the remedy, improve understanding of the contaminant interactions with the site.
  • Information and knowledge management (see Section 5.2.5). Maintenance of environmental data, knowledge and other information relevant to the remedy including public communication. When sites make the transition from clean-up to long term stewardship, site stewards and stakeholders should be given detailed information about the location and the nature of residual hazards, the processes that generated these, and the engineered and institutional controls that are part of the remedy.
  • Periodic review of the remedy and, if needed, alteration of the remedy (see Section 5.2.6). At regular intervals, for example, every five years, a review should be conducted to evaluate the implementation and performance of a remedy in order to determine if the remedy is or will be protective of human health and the environment.
  • Site access. Restriction of access to contaminated sites and/or institutional control may be required to be maintained in cases of serious residual contamination.
  • Removal of restriction of site access (see Section 5.2.7). If the monitoring and surveillance programme has verified the long term effectiveness of the remedial measures in eliminating unacceptable risks to human health and the environment, consideration should be given to removing any restrictions applied to the site and ending or reducing the extent of the monitoring and surveillance.
  • Economic and funding (see Section 5.2.10). In terms of the economic context, the implementation of a stewardship program should follow a split time frame concept.

Next to the above components long term stewardship has to deal also with societal and ethical aspects (see Section 5.2.8), such as:

  • Building trust at the stakeholders. Stakeholders in the specific case of long term stewardship may be different as during the remediation of the site and should be identified.
  • Communicating the nature of the risks and stewardship.
  • Defining societal criteria for defining and implementing stewardship strategies.
  • Managing ethical questions and engaging stakeholders in the decision making process and thereafter retaining stakeholder commitment [WRIGHT].
  • Keeping stakeholders involved (see Section 5.2.9).
  • Reconciling economic, management and technical issues with considerations of public values and beliefs.

Contaminated sites are socially constructed risks. As in the case of most socially mediated risks, the significance – and hence the acceptability – to an individual, to members of a community or to a society, of exposure (or a danger of exposure) to a dose, depends on how, by whom and why the dose has been produced. Correspondingly, in order to assess to what extent or on what basis the members of a society will judge acceptable (or not) a given strategy for management of high level long lived radioactive residues, it is necessary also to consider the meanings and relationships (in social, economic, cultural and symbolic terms) that alternative remediation and stewardship strategies might establish between the people – individuals, classes, interest groups, succeeding generations and whole nations – implicated in the site stewardship process.