The decision-making process for developing and implementing long-term radioactive waste management (RWM) solutions extends over decades and involves both a multitude of actors/stakeholders and stages. In order to be sustainable and successful, a great deal of built-in flexibility is needed in designing and carrying out such processes. Concepts such as "stepwise decision making" and "adaptive staging" hold out a means by which the public, and especially the local public, can be meaningfully involved in the review and planning of radioactive waste management solutions.
This review of stepwise decision making for long-term RWM pinpoints its current status, highlights its societal dimension and identifies implementation issues from both the point of view of social research and RWM practitioners. There is convergence between these two perspectives, and general guiding principles and action goals are proposed as a basis for further discussion and development of the stepwise decision-making concept.