In March 2023, Andra renewed its cooperation agreement with the Japanese Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NUMO) for a further five years. The two parties are thus continuing their long-standing relationship. Within this framework, a Japanese delegation visited Andra's facilities on August 3rd and 4th.
Andra-NUMO: 22 years of cooperation
After 22 years of cooperation, punctuated by regular exchanges and visits by delegations to France and Japan, it was only natural that Andra and NUMO should renew their agreement this year for a further five years.
NUMO and Andra share similar approaches to the design and operation of the repository, taking into account the expectations of stakeholders and civil society.
The area of cooperation between Andra and NUMO thus covers a very broad field of radioactive waste management: approach for promoting site selection process, methodology and techniques for the selection and characterization of geological formations, engineering technology for repository and engineered barriers, methodology and techniques for performances assessment, knowledge management, public acceptance and confidence building, licensing environmental impact assessment, and so on.
Visits and exchanges already on the agenda
As part of the new cooperation agreement between Andra and NUMO, a steering committee meeting will be held in the near future to draw up a roadmap for the coming years.
In the meantime, however, there's no stopping the exchanges. On August 3rd and 4th, a Japanese delegation comprising members of NUMO and METI visited Andra's facilities in France.
They visited Andra's industrial disposal facility in the Aube region (CSA), followed by the underground research laboratory at the Meuse/Haute-Marne site. The tour was punctuated by exchanges with Andra, mainly to learn more about interactions with stakeholders in radioactive waste disposal facilities, the R&D program, and also to initiate discussions on future areas of cooperation between Andra and NUMO.
Find out more about NUMO
Created in October 2000 in accordance with the Designated Radioactive Waste Final Disposal Act, under the supervision of the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), NUMO is in charge of implementing a geological repository for high-level and low-level long-lived radioactive waste from the nuclear fuel cycle.
Since 1992, Japan has had a disposal facility for its low-level waste, on the Rokkasho Mura site in the north of the island of Honshu. The concept of this facility is based on the construction of disposal cells a few dozen meters below ground level, which, once filled, are concreted over and covered with vegetation.
Regarding the geological disposal project, it is moving forward step by step : in 2017, Japan published a national map of areas suitable for geological disposal. The process of finding a specific site was then set in motion in October 2020, when two Japanese municipalities on the island of Hokkaido (in the north of the country) put themselves forward as candidates for the launch of bibliographical studies on their territory with a view to the installation of the project.
They will shortly express their intention to move on to the "preliminary investigation" stage, which would include geophysical investigations (such as borehole survey). NUMO anticipates a first selection of potential sites by 2025, with disposal commissioned by 2035.