Protection from the most hazardous radioactive waste
Generating electricity with nuclear power produces radioactive waste. It is not possible to dispose of the most dangerous waste at ground level or at shallow depths due to its high level of radioactivity and long life. The objective of the Industrial Centre for Geological Disposal (Cigeo) project is to protect humans and the environment from the danger of this waste over the very long term.
Waste destined for Cigeo will remain very dangerous for a very long time. It is highly radioactive waste produced in France that has a very long lifespan, about half of which is already produced with the other half yet to be produced by existing nuclear facilities and those that have received authorisation.
The nuclear power industry is the main producer of high-level waste (HLW) and intermediate-level long-lived waste (ILW-LL). Cigeo is designed for disposal of HLW and ILW-LL already produced in France. This represents around 10,000 m³ of HLW and 75,000 m³ of ILW-LL, i.e. around 85,000 m³ of radioactive waste in total.
of ILW-LL has already been produced
of HLW has already been produced
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HLW is mainly produced from the reprocessing of spent fuel from nuclear power plants. It is mixed with molten glass paste then poured into stainless steel containers. ILW-LL is more varied. It includes fuel assembly structural components or residues from nuclear facility operation. It is conditioned in metal or concrete containers.
Andra must also demonstrate that Cigeo will be able to adapt to different energy policy scenarios (including the total shutdown of nuclear power plants or extending their lifetime).
While awaiting the commissioning of Cigeo, existing HLW and ILW-LL packages have been temporarily stored in buildings at the facilities where they were produced, primarily in La Hague, Marcoule, Cadarache and, for a limited volume, Valduc. If Cigeo is licensed, these waste packages will be transferred to the disposal facility over the course of its operating life. However, some waste, such as heat-generating HLW, must remain in storage for several decades in these facilities until it cools before final disposal in Cigeo.
Cigeo can adapt to different energy policy scenarios
Thanks to the flexibility of the project, the disposal facility can accomodate future changes in the energy policy, resulting in changes in nature or volumes of waste. For instance, Spent Nuclear Fuel could be disposed if required, following termination of SNF processing.