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Where does the waste come from ?

Radioactive materials and waste come from five economic sectors: nuclear power, research, defense, non-nuclear industry and medical. The nuclear power sector generates the majority of the waste volume.

Nuclear electricity production sector

The nuclear power sector, which mainly includes nuclear power plants, as well as plants dedicated to the fabrication and processing of nuclear fuel (uranium ore processing, chemical conversion, enrichment of uranium concentrates, fuel manufacturing , spent fuel treatment and recycling of some of the material extracted from it).

The research sector

The research sector which includes research in the field of civil nuclear energy (in particular the research activities of the Commissariat for Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies - CEA), laboratories for medical research, nuclear physics and particles, agronomy , chemistry, biology ...

The defense sector

These are mainly armies and deterrence-related activities, including the nuclear propulsion of certain ships or submarines, as well as related research activities.

The non-electronuclear industry sector

The sector of the non-nuclear industry that includes the extraction of rare earths, the manufacture of sealed sources but also various applications such as welding control, sterilization of medical equipment, sterilization and preservation of food products ...

The medical sector

The medical sector which includes diagnostic and therapeutic activities.


The sectors that have historically contributed the most to the production of radioactive waste in France are the Nuclear Electricity Production sector, Research and Defense.