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2 Staged Approaches to Project Development Early in the study the committee realized that the words “staged,” “staging,” and similar terms, such as “stepwise,” “modular,” and “phased,” have all been used to describe various aspects of multistep approaches for the development of geologic repositories. However, they evoke different concepts to different readers and may not be synonymous, although these terms are all used to signify some type of iterative approach. In this chapter the committee clarifies its meaning of “adaptive” and “staged approaches” to project development and uses the term “phases” and “stages” to refer to segments of a staged approach (see Appendix G). The term “Adaptive” as applied to program management has a long history.1 Holling associated “Adaptive” with “management” in his 1978 book Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management. Holling observed, “Adaptive management is not really much more than common sense” (Holling, 1978, p. 136). The committee subscribes to this view and uses some of Holling’s basic ideas for its application to staging. The committee uses the term “Adaptive” and contrasts it with the term “Linear.” Adaptive Staging is not presented as a radical departure from existing methods for managing disposal programs. Rather, Adaptive Staging includes the acknowledged attributes of any system of prudent project management and attempts to put these attributes into an enlarged, consistent framework suited to complex projects that must address or entail significant uncertainties. 2.1 Different types of approaches to staging: Linear and Adaptive Every large, long-term, and complex project develops in stages. However nuclear waste has unique features that require refinements to more typical applications of staged projects. The refinement begins with the differentiation between two approaches to staging: one is called Linear and the other Adaptive. Both approaches are characterized by stages where the process is divided into smaller units. Linear and Adaptive approaches can be present simultaneously. For example, in an Adaptively Staged project some small tasks can be carried out Linearly. Conversely, unexpected developments (e.g., surprises in the repository geology) can force any project to adapt in ways not considered at the outset of a Linearly Staged project, but that are allowed for in an Adaptively Staged project. 1 For further information on adaptation in program management and organizational learning see Aryris (1982); for a recent description of adaptive management see Lee (1993, 1999) and Foundations of Success (2002).
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2.1.1 Linear Staging Linear Staging is defined as a management process characterized by a single predetermined path to a selected, completely defined end point, with stages defined principally as milestones where program progress, costs, and schedules are reviewed. The path and end points are reevaluated only if compelling new evidence or other circumstances absolutely require it. That is, Linear Staging attempts to preserve the specified end point and the path to reach it. 2.1.2 Adaptive Staging The committee applies the term “Adaptive Staging” to a process divided into phases (see Section 1.2), stages, and Decision Points2 (see Figures 2.1a, b, and c). The overarching goal of Adaptive Staging is to improve the chances of reaching repository program’s success, as defined in Section 1.2.2. The program begins with a reference framework that can be modified, if necessary, by new information.3 Decision Points mark the transition between stages of project implementation. At these points, the implementer evaluates results obtained and information acquired and decides on the optimal path to proceed (see Section 2.4). Subsequent stages are predicated on the outcomes of previous stages. No single path is therefore recognized from the outset as being fixed; flexibility, which allows adaptation of the approach toward agreed overarching goals, is maintained throughout. This approach emphasizes continuous learning throughout program development: integration of new knowledge is anticipated in the program. Similarly, Decision Points allow the project to adapt and incorporate new information throughout the process. Stages are defined to pursue continuous program improvement until success is reached. Examples of criteria for program improvements may involve increasing safety, cost-effectiveness,4 or societal acceptance of the repository. The committee’s terminology does not imply that Adaptive Staging and Linear Staging are new concepts, or denies that both approaches have common features, or that there may be a continuum between approaches.5 2.2 The safety case at the heart of Adaptive Staging For radioactive waste repositories, safety is the overriding concern in all program- 2 The committee coined the term “Decision Point” and defines it in Section 2.4. 3 The specific path to achieve disposal of high-level waste in a geologic repository is not specified at the outset. At the beginning of any long-term, complex project, the details of the path to the final end point are not clear. Consequently, good cost estimates are also lacking. As the implementer advances in the process, details of the reference framework and cost estimates become better established. 4 Commitment to systematic learning and cost-effectiveness may appear, at first, to be incompatible. However, cost-effectiveness implies that Adaptive Staging can help avoid the cost of not gathering information and making unwise decisions. 5 In this report, Adaptive Staging is only briefly juxtaposed to Linear Staging to illustrate the differences between the two approaches. The committee mainly focuses on features, implementation, and impacts of Adaptive Staging.
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matic decisions. This is sometimes referred to as “safety culture,” which means integrating safety into all practices, procedures, and management choices. A key part of the safety culture in geologic repository programs is the “safety case,” used in this report as a management tool to guide the implementer’s actions during repository development and to communicate the understanding of safety to a broader audience. The committee employs the term safety case in accordance with growing international practice to mean the integrated collection of arguments that support the safety of the repository system (see Sidebar 2.1). The implementer is responsible for development of the safety case even if it is not part of the requirements for the license application (see Sidebar 5.1). Important features of the safety case are: (1) it contains a understandable (to non-experts) explanation of how safety is achieved; (2) it describes the assumptions and concepts that underlie the performance assessment; (3) it discusses directly the uncertainties that could result from limitations in the scientific understanding of the processes and events determining safety; and (4) it can use other non-quantitative arguments (such as comparisons with independent lines of evidence, such as historical or natural analogues) to support the plausibility of the safety-relevant behavior of the repository system or its individual components. Two primary roles of the safety case are: (1) to guide the work of the implementer while adapting the program at each stage, and (2) to provide the implementer with a vehicle for making the safety arguments understandable by a wide audience. Reassessing the safety case at given stages of repository development provides opportunities to: prevent a scenario in which an accumulation of apparently harmless small decisions leads the program onto an unsafe path; ensure that the robustness of the system concept allows proposed adaptations to be carried out without unacceptable impacts upon safety; check the adequacy of the safety strategy to deal with unresolved, safety-related issues, which are a source for public concerns; incorporate new knowledge on the features and processes that determine repository safety performance; satisfy the demands for social review, which can potentially increase confidence; and take into account any significant change in system requirements, such as the introduction of new waste types to the inventory of waste to be disposed of in the repository. Demonstrable safety is the prime objective of geologic disposal. Accordingly, during the structured decision-making process between stages, the program implementer conducts a systematic reevaluation of the safety case in view of new information gained during the previous stage and modifies the program, if necessary. The committee does not imply that the safety case is a requirement for a license application or that it is the only way to demonstrate safety. Reevaluation of the safety case does not necessarily involve a re-calculation of numerical results of a safety analysis at the end of each stage, but instead involves a re-assessment of the level of confidence in the understanding of the behavior of all, or part of, the safety barrier system.
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SIDEBAR 2.1 The Safety Case as Defined by the Nuclear Energy Agency Although there is no universally accepted, comprehensive definition of a safety case, various aspects are presented in the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA, 1999a) report Confidence in the Long-Term Safety of Deep Geological Repositories. Relevant sections are reproduced below: “The safety case involves descriptions of the possible geological evolutions of the system. Although not capable of proof in a rigorous sense, these descriptions can be supported by relevant observations of the behavior of the various components of the system, while relying on an understanding of its geological history. Furthermore, flexibility should be built into the process of repository development, allowing account to be taken of new understanding and technical information, as well as the demands of societal review. The safety case that is provided at a particular stage in the planning, construction, operation or closure of a deep geological repository is a part of a broader decision basis that guides the repository-development process.… The safety case should make explicit the principles adopted, and methods followed, in order to establish confidence. The approaches to establish confidence in the evaluation of safety should aim to ensure that the decisions taken within the incremental process of repository development are well-founded.… The key messages [of the report] are highlighted below. A safety case should make explicit the approaches that are implemented in order to establish confidence in the safety indicated by an assessment. The assessment basis…is a key element of any safety case. In order to establish confidence in the safety indicated by an assessment, confidence in the elements of the assessment basis must be evaluated. If necessary, the elements must be modified with a view to achieving confidence enhancement. Confidence evaluation and enhancement are performed iteratively in the preparation of a safety case. Methods exist to evaluate confidence in the safety [of the repository] indicated by an assessment in the inevitable presence of uncertainty. In many cases, it can be determined whether safety is compromised by specific uncertainties through a sensitivity analysis, in which the consequences of such uncertainties are evaluated. Confidence in the safety indicated by an assessment can be enhanced, by ensuring the robustness of the system concept, the quality of the assessment capability, the reliability of its application in performance assessment and the adequacy of the safety strategy to deal with unresolved, safety-relevant issues.
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Observations of natural systems play an important role in the qualitative evaluation and enhancement of confidence, because such systems have evolved over extremely long time-scales. A statement of confidence in the overall safety indicated by the performance-assessment results is part of the safety case and should include an evaluation of the arguments that were developed, in relation to the decision to be taken” (NEA, 1999a, pp. 9– 10). Sidebar 5.1 discusses the safety case in the U.S. regulatory context. 2.3 Attributes of Adaptive Staging A successful geologic repository program requires commitment to systematic learning, flexibility, reversibility, transparency, auditability, integrity, and responsiveness. These are the attributes that the committee uses to define Adaptive Staging. Although these attributes may exist separately in any staged project, successful application of Adaptive Staging requires that they be simultaneously satisfied both throughout each stage and in the decision-making process between stages. Commitment to systematic learning. Commitment to systematic learning requires a structured program aimed at the acquisition and incorporation of new knowledge during the development of geologic repositories. Stages are designed specifically to increase the body of available knowledge, including scientific, technical, societal, institutional, and operational knowledge. Needs and questions are made as explicit as feasible at the outset of each stage. A central feature of Adaptive Staging is that it intentionally seeks, is open to, and learns from stakeholder input in all knowledge areas. The commitment to systematic learning is explicit in both the Adaptive Staging perspective and during program design. To realize the opportunities presented by a commitment to learning, it is also essential that appropriate institutional arrangements and attitudes be in place. Unless the scientific and management systems seek out and welcome alternative viewpoints, openly acknowledge errors and uncertainties, and implement negotiating strategies with local hosts and critics, learning will be minimal. Flexibility. Flexibility is the capability and the willingness to reevaluate earlier decisions and redesign or change course if warranted by new information. Adaptive Staging is an iterative process that involves periodic reevaluation. Earlier decisions are questioned, or program changes are proposed, only if information gathered suggests the need for amending the next stage and thus altering the reference framework. Flexibility includes consideration of available technical and non-technical knowledge to determine the program direction while keeping options open. Reversibility. Reversibility is the distinct option to abandon an earlier path and reverse the course of action to a previous stage if new information warrant. Because knowledge will accumulate as the project moves through stages, and project choices are made, the likelihood of reversal is expected to decrease as the project develops. Nevertheless, reversal must remain an option until the pro-
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ject is completed. A decision to reverse is evaluated with the same rigor as a decision to advance in light of current knowledge. Reversibility requires that fallback positions be incorporated into disposal policies and technical programs. Transparency. Transparency implies that the decision-making process is well documented (including clear and comprehensive synthesis of the bases for decisions), and available to all stakeholders throughout the program. Policy and technical considerations must be clearly differentiated; for instance, a statement of intent and rationale behind each stage and Decision Point must be developed and tested for understandability and then broadly publicized to stakeholders. To improve transparency (and auditability) it is also valuable to ensure that key information is not buried indistinguishably in a surfeit of less relevant information. Transparency creates the basis for a dialogue among the implementer, the regulator, external review bodies, and stakeholders. Auditability. Auditability requires complete documentation of the preceding dialogue and of the basis for decisions. The implementer ensures that all documents are readily available to all interested parties, and can be easily obtained and understood. While transparency refers to accessibility of the decision process in more or less real time, auditability refers to accessibility after a decision is made (e.g., for purposes of review). Integrity. Integrity implies honesty. It means saying what you will do and doing what you say you will do. All uncertainties, assumptions, and indeterminacies are identified and labeled as such. Technical results are accurately and objectively reported and placed in context at each stage. Data applicability and limitations remain openly acknowledged. All relevant results, including those offered by external parties, are also incorporated in the decision-making process. Responsiveness. Responsiveness requires the implementer to seek, acknowledge, and act on new information and on input from other stakeholders in a timely fashion. Schedules should be planned to allow timely integration of new knowledge into decision-making and includes time to implement changes responding to newly acquired information. To integrate lessons learned from prior stages, planning and evaluation periods are integral parts of an Adaptively Staging’s schedule. The committee calls these evaluation periods Decision Points (see Section 2.4). Taken separately, these attributes do not constitute the process that the committee calls Adaptive Staging. Only the simultaneous presence of these attributes makes the staging process truly Adaptive.6 They must all be satisfied to ensure proper functioning of the stages and the decision-making process between stages. 6 The reader should not infer from this report that Linear Staging, by default, lacks all attributes of Adaptive Staging. A key difference between the two approaches is that Adaptive Staging is designed to fulfill all of these attributes, whereas it is not necessarily the case with Linear Staging.
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2.4 The decision-making process A structured decision process is an essential part of Adaptive Staging. The purpose of a Decision Point is to assimilate new information, generate options (both anticipated and unanticipated), and make choices for subsequent actions based on acquired data. At Decision Points the implementer, following stakeholder consultation, determines whether the program will proceed or reiterate a previous stage. Decision Points should be planned at the end of all stages to assess the lessons learned. They can also be introduced in a stage whenever necessary (i.e., if new information warrant reconsideration of program direction). The decision to apply for a license (construct, operate, close the repository, or terminate activities) is an example of a planned Decision Point. The decision in the U.S. program to add the titanium drip shield to the engineered barrier system at Yucca Mountain would have been an example of an unplanned Decision Point if it had been carried out as described in this section. The implementer, DOE, judged that the drip shield was required to meet repository performance goals. In contrast with Adaptive Staging, Linear Staging attempts to anticipate all options initially, chooses a path, and does not allow for generating additional options during the process unless an unexpected event forces it. Decision Points in Adaptive Staging add flexibility and opportunities for program improvement with respect to safety, costs, and schedule. A Decision Point is not just a “point” in time but a process involving analyses, review, and evaluations, as well as the consequent decisions for future actions. Thus, at a Decision Point the program implementer initiates a process that: systematically gathers, synthesizes, evaluates, and applies the information acquired to date; develops options for the next stage, including explicit consideration of reverting to an earlier stage;7 evaluates and updates the assessment of the safety of the repository system, in light of the options; makes the findings publicly transparent and available; engages in dialogue with stakeholders; decides on the next stage based on all of the above; and disseminates decisions and their rationales. Figures 2.1a, b, and c illustrate schematically the committee’s view of the overall Adaptive Staging process, stages, and Decision Points. The more important or far-reaching the decision, the more it resembles the Decision Point-process above. Of course, the program implementer makes many more decisions than those at the formal Decision Points. 7 Because reversibility is always an option, it is important that the repository program provide flexibility in its reference framework.
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FIGURE 2.1a The Adaptive Staging process. Solid lines display a forward path throughout the repository phases listed in Section 1.2.1. At each Decision Point, the options are shown: to move forward as planned (solid line) or to revisit decisions or work performed in previous stages (dotted lines). The option to revisit a decision can apply to any of the previous Decision Points. Continual improvement indicates progression through stages and Decision Points until achieving program success, as defined in Section 1.2.2. Details of implementation and operational stages and Decision Points are described in Figure 2.1b and c, respectively. That is the main reason for introducing these comprehensive formal Decision Points throughout the program, i.e., to ensure that a series of relatively small decisions, each made on narrow grounds, do not lead the program onto an unsound path. During the operational phase the implementer is likely to undergo many subsidiary decision processes—both nested and parallel—in various parts of the program, which are in effect overseen and reviewed at the Decision Points. In Adaptive Staging, it is not the frequency of Decision Points that matters; it is the readiness to introduce a Decision Point when it is necessary and to follow the appropriate decision-making process. The transparency attribute of Adaptive Staging allows all parties to ensure that important decisions are treated as Decision Points. Adaptive Staging does not require program “stops” at each Decision Point. Decision Points can be folded into the schedule so that, when a program is proceeding well, no undue delays are required. Adaptive Staging may appear to be a time-consuming, disruptive, and endless process, particularly because reversibility by definition is an option at every Decision
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FIGURE 2.1b The Implementation and Operation stage. aEngineering operations can be repository construction, pilot activities, repository operation, closure, etc. bMonitoring implies gathering technical data from the site and from other sources and also societal input (see Section 4.6). cTargeted research includes long-term science and technology program and research in social sciences (see Sections 4.7 and 4.11, respectively). Point; however, if questions of safety or planned feasibility do not emerge as the program proceeds, reversal on technical grounds becomes less likely. Similarly, as the program proceeds, choices among alternatives are likely to decline.8 Unlike Linear Staging, options remain open for as long as practical when Adaptive Staging is employed. Eventually, Linear and Adaptive approaches converge to an end. If parties involved in the program openly acknowledge that the final path taken may not be the one initially planned, Adaptive Staging has the potential to reduce the perception that changes are a reaction to some failure in the original plan. This perception may be mitigated by using Adaptive Staging when compared to a management approach that sets up and advertises fixed milestones that will inevitably need to be revised with time. In summary, Adaptive Staging is a cautious and deliberate decision-making and management process, fully consistent with good engineering practices. It emphasizes continuous learning, both technical and societal, includes scientific and managerial re-evaluations and reactions to new knowledge, is responsive to stakeholder input, and is designed to continually improve the project while retaining the option of reversibility as much as possible. 8 Of course, it cannot be excluded that some programs—especially those with active research components using Adaptive Staging—open new options as they proceed.
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FIGURE 2.1c Decision Point. aPublic, stakeholders, policy considerations, and the long-term science and technology program (S&T) provide input for decision-making. For a generic definition of stakeholder see Sidebar 3.2. bResponsibility for the decision will depend on the national framework and on the specific issue addressed. cCan be an iteration of a previous stage. 2.5 Criteria for Adaptive Staging Linear Staging is appropriate under certain circumstances; however, in projects facing significant technical uncertainties and societal challenges, an Adaptively Staged approach may offer a greater likelihood of success. The committee has developed project criteria to determine the appropriateness of Adaptive Staging for such projects.9 These criteria are interrelated, and they must be assessed simultaneously to determine whether an Adaptively Staged approach has a higher likelihood of success than a Linearly Staged process. The committee presents these criteria as a series of questions. Adaptive Staging may be an appropriate approach to a project when the answer is “yes” to most of the following questions: 9 These criteria are based on a considerable body of work in organization studies dating back several decades. For further information, see Scott (2003); Thompson (1967); Cyert and March (1963); Lindblom (1965); Steinbrunner (1974); Galbraith (1977); Emery and Trist (1965); Dess and Beard (1984); La Porte (1994, 2000). Similar analyses stem from studies of policy implementation, such as Berman (1980) and Sabatier (1986). For background reading, see Lindblom (1959) and Etzioni (1967).
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Is the project unprecedented? Is the project goal controversial? Are proposed implementing methods controversial? Are there significant scientific, technical, or non-technical uncertainties? Is the consequence of any implementing action uncertain? Are the project’s consequences slow to develop over time (versus immediately apparent)? Are there high real or perceived risks associated with the course of action? Are financial resources limited? Is action required but there is no immediate crisis or emergency? Is there significant societal distrust of implementers, regulators, and other responsible parties? Is the public expecting to participate in decision-making? Are institutional environments turbulent or likely to be modified during the course of the project? Criterion 1 determines whether there are similar, existing projects from which to gain experience, thus avoiding potential but presently unknown pitfalls. A first-of-a-kind project has a great number of uncertainties and necessitates Adaptive Staging’s Decision Points in its stage-by-stage assessment of lessons learned. Answering Questions 2, 3, 4, and 5 in the affirmative means that there is uncertainty about goals, methods, and system properties. Uncertainty in any of these criteria makes Linear planning difficult and likely to fail. Controversy on program goal or implementing methods, Criteria 2 and 3, often accompany value conflicts and other types of social controversies. Adaptive Staging’s flexible and reversible approach is both less error-prone (because it operates with more information) and is designed to correct errors quickly, thus allowing forward—but cautious—action in the presence of uncertainty as opposed to “paralysis by analysis.” A “yes” for Criteria 1, 5, and 6 has two meanings: first, confident prediction of outcomes is impossible and second, the environment’s response to action is delayed in time. Both of these qualities make Linear Staging likely to fail because a Linear process predicts specific results from specific actions. Adaptive Staging allows management to proceed in smaller steps and to react in almost “real-time” to the outcome of a specific action, whatever the outcome. Linear Staging also lacks reversibility unless it is forced by external events. The implementer may do what is predetermined but later discover unexpected or adverse consequences. With long delays in feedback of results an implementer needs to work within a program that incorporates reversibility into every step—a defining attribute of Adaptive Staging. If Criterion 10 is also affirmed, and the public exhibits distrust in the implementers, delay in feedback becomes a serious impediment to restoring public confidence. Criterion 7 reflects to some extent the well-known precautionary principle of deferring irreversible actions with potentially large risks. A cautious approach is appropriate if the implementer or regulator judges that there are significant risks associated with any activity. A cautious approach is equally necessary if the public is to be closely involved (as reflected in Criteria 2, 10, and 11), the perception of risk is high, or great potential for hazard prevails. Limited resources, Criterion 8, can create financial uncertainties that require prudent financial management. Regardless of expectations to the contrary, a complex,
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first-of-a-kind project cannot be rigidly planned in advance; however, Adaptive Staging provides repeated “assessment” periods, or Decision Points, that can help an implementer avoid expensive wrong decisions or unanticipated blind alleys. However, when resources are limited, the visible and near-term costs of Adaptive Staging10 are likely to appear significant if they cannot be put into perspective, as is the case with any first-of-a-kind project. Together with Criterion 12, unpredictable changes in the program’s policy or regulatory environment mean that tightly structured programs can engender more internal infighting and diminished coordination than a more resilient approach programmed to react to changes at the outset. If action is needed to manage a situation that does not require a fast response (i.e., it is not an emergency or a crisis) but there are significant uncertainties and potential risks associated with a course of action, a Linear approach is likely to produce failure (Criteria 4, 5, 7, and 9 all answer in the affirmative). A cautious approach focused on learning to reduce the uncertainties, particularly in the short term, is more likely to succeed. However, if the situation (such as a combat threat in a war or an imminent environmental disaster) is deemed to require a fast and substantial (i.e., non-incremental) response, even in the presence of uncertainties and risks, then rather than Adaptive Staging, a “command and control” Linear approach may be appropriate (Criterion 9 is not satisfied). In this stipulated crisis situation, the risk of no action is deemed less desirable than the risk of a wrong action and a “command and control” approach, with all of its attendant risks of choosing an inappropriate strategy and of alienating the public, may be necessary. Adaptive Staging has built-in transparency. This attribute requires the implementer to make project decisions openly with public participation (Criterion 10). Transparency makes it possible to elicit public input at each Decision Point (Criterion 11) and has the equally important potential benefit of building public trust. Linear Staging, on the other hand, makes most decisions in advance when their rationale and impact may be unclear to the public, stakeholders, and the implementer. Seemingly innocuous early decisions may commit a Linearly Staged project to a path that later proves inappropriate or even unsafe, undermining public trust and forcing institutional change. But the resilience of Adaptive Staging incorporates possible institutional changes into its planning process (Criterion 12), whereas such changes can derail a Linear process. Moreover, Adaptive Staging could also be vulnerable to disruption. Opposing stakeholders can seek to defeat a project, for instance, by denying resources to assure reversibility and then launching a critique of irretrievable errors. Linear Staging is occasionally a necessary choice if a real or perceived crisis exists (Criterion 9). Whether a criterion is met will depend on which stakeholder is making the decision and on the national context. For example, answering the question on urgency for action (Criterion 9) is different for various audiences for which the status quo is, or is not, acceptable. Whether Adaptive Staging or Linear Staging is the appropriate strategy does not depend only on Criterion 9 but on the full set of criteria. These issues are illustrated for the specific case of geologic repositories in Section 2.7. The presence of the above properties for any particular situation is not an “all-or-nothing” matter. Programs are rarely scored all clearly “yes” or clearly “no” for the 10 Near-term costs of Adaptive Staging include, for example, the costs to ensure reversibility.
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above criteria. The challenges are to judge the intensity of each quality and to identify the threshold that indicates that uncertainties are sufficient to forego a Linear process in favor of an Adaptive approach. Even more challenging is to decide upon a relative weighting for the criteria; this involves subjective judgment and may be dependent on the case being considered. However, in simplified form, if the answer is “no” for most of the questions, a Linear Approach may well be suited to achieving the proposed goals within the assigned schedule and budget. If the answer is “yes” for most of the questions, the committee believes that an Adaptive approach may be a more effective and less error-prone method for managing the project. Below are two case studies from a technical area other than waste disposal. Each demonstrates the use of these criteria for choosing the most successful management approach. The case studies involve two projects (NASA’s Apollo Program and NASA’s International Space Station Program) that adopted a management approach similar to Linear Staging. The cases are compared to the criteria given above for Adaptive Staging and discussed in light of their success using a Linearly Staged approach. Discussion of each criterion for both programs is provided in Appendix C. The challenges of NASA’s space programs are obviously very different from those of a geologic repository program. Nonetheless, these programs represent first-of-a-kind, complex, and long-term projects that serve to illustrate the application of the criteria defined in this section. 2.5.1 Linear Staging: NASA’s Apollo Program Did this program meet the 12 Adaptive Staging criteria? The “score” is: two criteria for using Adaptive Staging; 10 for not using Adaptive Staging. As shown in Table 2.1, only Criteria 1 and 9 were answered fully in the affirmative: the project was unprecedented and action was required. The Apollo Program is a successful example of Linear Staging. NASA accomplished what President John F.Kennedy had promised in 1961: to land a man on the Moon within a decade. The program’s goal was essentially geopolitical, to demonstrate to the world the prowess of the United States, and this it did, on schedule. The program received generous financial resources and political support; cost overruns were not a factor in determining success. Supporters could tolerate a few years of overruns; annual program costs peaked two years before the Moon landing, and their decline encouraged continued support (Konkel, 1990). The preceding Mercury and Gemini programs had demonstrated much, if not all, the necessary technology. Success was a singular event. As soon as the lunar module landed and returned safely to Earth, the Apollo Program was a success by definition. That there were failures cannot be discounted. Three astronauts died in a fire during tests on the ground. Apollo 13 failed to land on the Moon and barely returned to Earth safely. But these failures did not undermine the program’s overall success. 2.5.2 Linear Staging: NASA’s International Space Station Program Does this program meet the 12 Adaptive Staging criteria? The “score” is seven criteria for using Adaptive Staging; three for not using Adaptive Staging; and two
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TABLE 2.1 Two Case Studies of Linear Approaches in the U.S. Space Program Criteria for Adaptive Management APOLLO ISS 1. Is the project unprecedented? Yes Yes 2. Is the project controversial? No Yes 3. Are proposed implementing methods controversial? No Yes 4. Are there significant scientific, technical, or non-technical uncertainties? No No 5. Is the consequence of any implementing action uncertain? No Yes 6. Are the project’s consequences slow to develop over time (versus immediately apparent)? No Yes 7. Are there high real or perceived risks associated with the course of action? No No 8. Are financial resources limited? No Yes 9. Is action required, but there is no immediate crisis or emergency? Yes No 10. Is there significant societal distrust of implementers, regulators, and other responsible parties? No Yes & No 11. Is the public expecting to participate in decision-making? No Yes & No 12. Are institutional environments turbulent or likely to be modified during the course of the project? No Yes NOTE: Apollo=NASA’s Apollo Program; ISS=International Space Station Program. References are in Appendix C. indeterminate (see Table 2.1). This score suggests that it would have been useful for NASA to move away from a Linear Staging approach. At least in the developmental phase, Linear Staging has not succeeded because of many problems in cost, performance, and schedule. The program’s history bears out the failure of Linear Staging in the development phase. In 1984 NASA promised a large and capable station design for $8 billion within a decade. Eighteen years later development continues and the cost, although still unknown, will be in excess of $40 billion for a much less capable space station. This program is ongoing, so its eventual success is unclear. 2.6 Meeting Adaptive Staging criteria does not guarantee success Meeting the 12 criteria for Adaptive Staging does not guarantee that this approach will ensure program success. Public trust and confidence in the implementing institutions as well as institutional constancy are important requisites to achieve program goals. These two requisites are discussed next. 2.6.1 Public trust and confidence requirements When a project lends itself to Adaptive Staging, the ease of applying this flexible approach depends on at least two initial conditions:
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perceived trustworthiness of implementing institutions, and assurance that current institutions will keep political and economic agreements and maintain continuity for many generations.11 The confidence level of stakeholders and the general public (the amount of trust) bears a direct relationship to the degrees of freedom, the amount of resources, and the amount of esteem accorded or withheld from large technical organizations. If there is a surplus of trust in the implementing institutions, their leaders are likely to have a good deal of discretion, sufficient funding to ensure continuity, and considerable esteem and technological autonomy. If the implementing institutions face a deficit of public trust and confidence, conflict is high (even over technical issues), regulatory constraints multiply, resources are difficult to sustain, and consensus becomes increasingly elusive. The greater the deficit of trust, the more institutional leaders are pressed to recover it. Where there is a great deficit, some argue that recapturing trust may be impossible (Slovic, 1993). Table 2.2 summarizes means for maintaining and enhancing public trust when it has been lost.12 Reversals of institutional distrust are rare, especially when the institution manages a challenging program. In an environment of distrust and limited institutional constancy, implementing Adaptive Staging will be arduous. Trust is not a pre-requisite for Adaptive Staging. However, some trust is required to begin with this approach, because the end points and routes are not rigorously defined and the decision-making process is of paramount importance to effective implementation. 2.6.2 Institutional constancy requirements The longer the project, and the more generations of managerial leadership, the greater the likelihood of a loss in institutional memory and commitment. The longer the project, the greater are the risks of trans-generational suspicion and opposition. Therefore, the longer the project, the greater is the need for institutional constancy. Institutional constancy implies organizational perseverance and faithful adherence to the mission and its imperatives over long time periods. The goal of institutional constancy is to give confidence to stakeholders and the general public that organizations will keep to their word from one management generation to another. The characteristics of institutional constancy are listed in Table 2.3 (LaPorte and Keller, 1996). A deficit of trust and a limited assurance of institutional constancy make implementing any staging program arduous unless institutions and their leaders tackle the deficit. This caveat is especially applicable to Adaptive Staging. Before implementing Adaptive Staging, implementers need an in-depth analysis of existing conditions and in-depth discussions of additional institutional measures. 11 Absent conditions of trust and confidence, applying a Linear approach may be even harder in the long run than applying an adaptive approach. 12 For the full development of this argument see La Porte and Metlay (1996) and DOE— SEAB(1993).
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TABLE 2.2 Means of Maintaining and Enhancing Trust. Source: Derived from La Porte and Metlay (1996) and DOE (1993). Interaction with External Parties • Early, continuous involvement of stakeholders’ advisory groups with frequent contact; complete candor, rapid, and full response • Timely accomplishment of agreements unless modified through an open process established in advance • Consistent, respectful reaching out to state and community leaders and the general public to inform and consult about technical, operational, societal, and equity aspects of agency activities • Active, periodic presence of leaders at the highest echelons, visible and accessible to citizens at important agency field sites • Consistency in approach; willingness to acknowledge mistakes • Unmistakable local agency and program residential presence that contributes to community affairs and pays through appropriate mechanisms its fair share of the tax and other common burdens • Assuring negotiated benefits to the community, including resources to the affected host communities, that are needed to detect and respond to unexpected costs Internal Organizational Conditions • High professional and managerial competence and discipline in meeting technically realistic schedules with high transparency in the meeting of schedules and goals • The fostering of a “safety culture”a by executives at the highest echelons of participating organizations • Pursue technical options, the consequences of which are attentive to public concerns and clearly demonstrable to broad segments of the public • Processes of self-assessment that permit the agency to “get ahead of problems” and openly acknowledge them before they are discovered by outsiders • Tough internal processes of reviewing and discovering actual operating activities that include stakeholders • Clear, institutionalized assignment of responsibility for regaining and sustaining public trust and confidence and for ensuring constancy activities aFor a definition of safety culture see Section 2.2. The absence of trust is a constraint on any approach, but is perhaps worse for Adaptive Staging because of its emphasis on stakeholder participation. On the other hand, relying on stakeholder participation is what makes Adaptive Staging useful for rebuilding trust. 2.7 Geologic repository programs meet the Adaptive Staging criteria Geologic repository programs meet all the criteria for Adaptive Staging (Section 2.5).
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TABLE 2.3 Characteristics of Institutional Constancy. Source: Derived from La Porte and Keller (1996). Assurance of Steadfast Political Will • A culture of commitment with the formal goal of unswerving adherence to the spirit of the initial agreement • Strong articulation of commitments by leaders at the upper echelons of all participating organizations calling on staff to achieve constancy • Clear evidence of organizational continuity with institutional norms that nurture the persistence of commitments across many generations • Vigorous external enforcement from regulatory agencies, stakeholders, and an attentive public Organizational Infrastructure of Constancy • Administrative and technical capacity to carry out constancy-assurance activities reinforced by agency rewardsa • Adequate resources to assure the transfer of requisite technical, cultural, and institutional knowledge from one worker and management generation to another • Analytical and resource support for careful examination of technical changes on future impacts • Capacity to detect and remedy the early onset of likely failure that threatens the future, with the assurance of remediation if failure occurs aIn this context, rewards are incentives that go to those who administer “constancy-assurance activities.” These would likely be unit supervisors, and professional personnel who build the organizational infrastructure of constancy (i.e., personnel who ensure the requisites mentioned in the bullets above). Criterion 1. The project of building a geologic repository for high-level waste is first-of-a-kind. Underground waste repositories for other waste types have been implemented (e.g., low-level and intermediate-level waste in Scandinavia and transuranic waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in the United States) but highly active, long-lived, heat-generating waste has not yet been disposed of permanently. Criterion 2. The goal of managing high-level waste by geologic isolation as opposed to surface storage is controversial (see Section 1.2.1). Criterion 3. Examples of controversies about implementation methods are the types of engineered and natural barriers needed, transportation plans, and mechanisms for stakeholder involvement. Criterion 4. Significant technical and societal uncertainties exist (see Section 1.2.1). Criteria 5 and 6. The response of the repository environment to action taken is relatively uncertain and develops over time periods that cannot be observed directly by this generation. Recognition of the need to demonstrate retrievability is widespread. Many regulatory programs already require retrievability of the waste from the repository. Criterion 7. The public fear of nuclear materials, including radioactive waste, has already been discussed. Opinions differ, even within the committee, concerning the risks involved. Some committee members believe that properly sited and designed geologic repositories present limited risks compared with the
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and designed geologic repositories present limited risks compared with the many other hazards facing society, in part because almost all analyses of risks from a repository give low or very low estimates. Other members believe that it is difficult or impossible to estimate with adequate accuracy the risk of a geologic repository given the uncertainties. There is agreement, however, that high-level waste (1) presents a very long-term hazard; (2) introduces considerable uncertainties in risk estimates; and (3) potentially affects generations far into the future and it is impossible to say for them what constitutes a “low” risk. Criterion 8. Financial resources are limited and they may vary in the future, depending on external events, such as national emergencies and political and economic changes. Criterion 9. Even with increased terrorist activities there is no sense of a short-term emergency or crisis situation with respect to the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and defense-related high-level waste,13 as opposed to leaving it stored at nuclear power sites or at separate sites. However, the governing institutions in some countries, including the United States, have required action from the implementer. Criterion 10. According to recent data there has been an overall decline in public trust in institutions (Harris, 1997; Upset and Schneider, 1987; Pharr and Putnam, 2000). Moreover, the nuclear industry was born with a tradition of secrecy that translated into distrust of nuclear technologies and their implementers. Criterion 11. The public is concerned about radioactive waste and participates through the administrative rule-making process and its elected representatives in the decision-making process, particularly with respect to siting the repository and establishing transportation routes. Criterion 12. Given the decades-long time frame for repository development, the implementing institution is likely to undergo several management and institutional changes, and the institution may even disappear. The institutional and societal context of high-level waste repositories is addressed in further detail in Chapter 3. Judgments differ on criteria. For example, Criterion 9 illustrates the difference concerning real or perceived crisis situations. In most countries the lack of geologic repositories is regarded as an important but not urgent situation. The public, in general, shows limited interest in changing the status quo, namely leaving waste at reactor sites, because there is no evidence that storing commercial spent fuel on the surface is unsafe compared to storage underground or other types of waste disposal (NRC, 2001). Indeed, as is the case in the United States, the public and the decision-makers may become agitated by proposed changes that a repository program brings (e.g., the necessity for finding a site and planning for waste transportation to the site). This lack of urgency in implementing high-level waste disposal is the case in several national programs and has led to long developmental time scales (e.g., in Switzerland and Japan) or even to postponement of the problem (e.g., in Spain, the United Kingdom, and Canada). In the United States, on the other hand, there are 13 While there may not be the perception of a short-term emergency or crisis for the disposal of these materials, there is a sense of urgency to manage them.
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legal, political, and financial reasons for resolving the challenge of high-level waste disposal with some urgency (see Chapter 5). With due regard to country-specific differences, the committee believes geologic repository programs fulfill the criteria for Adaptive Staging, implying that Linear approaches are likely to encounter significant obstacles, as has been demonstrated by examples in various radioactive waste management programs. 2.8 Staging in non-U.S. national repository programs There is a growing international consensus that repository programs have a higher chance of success when they proceed in stages (EDRAM, 2002; NEA, 1996b, 1999a, 2001). The setbacks, controversy, and loss of trust in several national programs have led observers to believe that a staged approach might provide a more resilient structure for the development of repository programs. An awareness of the potential advantages of staging has arisen, in large part, because of the setbacks of various national programs when they try to proceed without sufficient intermediate check points (i.e., when their staged approach was more Linear than Adaptive). Appendix D provides examples of blockages in disposal programs and the attempts made to consider whether applying the attributes of Adaptive Staging may have led to more success. In recent years setbacks in disposal programs have occurred in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, France, and Switzerland. In each of these countries, setbacks lead to the loss of many years of scientific effort and large sums of funding. Disposal programs in other countries have suffered setbacks that are less visible because the programs were less active (Witherspoon and Bodvarsson, 2001). For example, in Spain, the Netherlands, and Argentina, programs have been halted following failures to integrate technical and societal aspects, motivating implementers to seek alternative approaches with higher chances of success. Staging repository programs is one proposed response to the situation, as has been recognized in international groupings (EDRAM, 2002; NEA, 1999b). Not all programs have been beset by major problems. The most successful spent fuel management programs today are in Finland and Sweden, where complete programs have been developed (Lundqvist, 2001; Vira, 2001a, b), for lengthy interim storage, followed by encapsulation of waste in copper containers, and disposal in crystalline bedrock surrounded by a bentonite backfill. Both of these successful programs followed a staged site-selection process, used underground rock laboratories as places for learning, and emphasized continued direct contacts among personnel of the implementers, regulatory staff, and the public. In Sweden the process included the rejection of two of the proposed sites by local communities in consultative referenda. The Swedish implementer, Svensk Karnbranslehantering (SKB), acknowledged these results and abandoned further study of these sites. A caveat must be added: both countries have significantly different political systems, different national cultures, and importantly, populations sufficiently small so that maintaining contacts between implementers and stakeholders is a simpler task. Although Adaptive Staging is a helpful approach, it is recognized that there are broader, largely political factors that must also be taken into account. In summary, even when the attributes are satisfied, use of the relatively untried Adaptive Staging process will not guarantee success. Worldwide experience to date has shown that past approaches to managing disposal programs have met with se-
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rious obstacles. Adaptive Staging is a more promising management approach because it addresses many of the challenges facing high-level waste geologic repository programs, as discussed specifically in Chapter 4. Given the long time scales inherent in implementing any geologic repository program and the inherently difficult social challenges, the risk that trying an Adaptive Staging approach might lead to major delays or new problems seems small compared to the potential benefits (i.e., a successful repository program). Ultimately, it is the implementer’s decision whether to try this approach as a possible way to develop a geologic repository. Finally, Adaptive Staging is a useful tool, but only if used in the correct way. The basic requirements of good science and engineering, technical competence of both the implementer and the regulator, as well as transparency, stakeholder participation, and integrity are important regardless of the management approach. Adaptive Staging can help but does not replace these requirements.
Representative terms from entire chapter: