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IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi visits our underground laboratory

On the occasion of his official visit to France, Rafael Grossi, Director General of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), visited our facilities in Meuse/Haute-Marne on Wednesday November 29, and discussed progress on the Cigéo project with CEO Pierre-Marie Abadie.

In the underground laboratory located at a depth of 500 m at Bure, Rafael grossi was able to discover the scientific and technological experiments carried out for more than 20 years, as well as structures representative of the first period of construction and operation of Cigéo: a large-diameter gallery prefiguring a disposal gallery for long-lived intermediate-level waste (ILW-LL), and micro-tunnel demonstrators for high-level waste (HLW). On the surface, demonstrators for transferring and handling disposal packages were presented.

"I'm impressed by the work I've seen here, testing technologies and undertaking research to ensure safe and viable long-term disposal of nuclear waste. This is an important benchmark," explains Rafael Grossi.


Constructive discussions

In addition to industrial and safety issues, Rafael Grossi looked at the progressive development of the Cigéo project and the French democratic process that is framing it. Pierre-Marie Abadie also presented Andra's approach to public involvement and dialogue with local communities and stakeholders.

"The communication policy followed here is a model, and at the IAEA we try to follow this type of practice, to build on what is done here and share with other countries to follow this model" , Rafael Grossi explains.

For Pierre-Marie Abadie, "Rafael Grossi's visit is international recognition of France's work on deep geological disposal, of the region's investment in this project of national interest, and also of the work of all the Agency's staff".

With the submission of the construction licence application (DAC) to create a deep geological repository last January, Andra is one of the three most advanced countries in this field, alongside Sweden and Finland. Following his visits to the two Scandinavian countries, Rafael Grossi was able to discover the specific features and maturity of the French project.

"Cooperation on a global scale is essential: when one country makes progress towards the implementation of a disposal solution, all the other countries benefit from it" emphasizes Pierre-Marie Abadie.