The Industrial Centre for Geological Disposal, or Cigeo, is a deep geological disposal facility for radioactive waste to be built in France. It will serve for disposal of highly radioactive long-lived waste produced by France's current fleet of nuclear facilities, until they are dismantled, as well as from reprocessing of spent fuel from nuclear power plants.
Protection from the most hazardous radioactive waste
Using nuclear power to produce electricity generates radioactive waste. The most hazardous waste cannot be disposed on the surface or at shallow depths due to its high level of radioactivity and long life. The objective of Cigeo is to protect man and the environment from this hazardous waste over the very long term.
30 years of research
Since 1991, various avenues of research have been pursued on the management of the most hazardous radioactive waste. In 2006, this research led to opting for deep geological disposal, and the studies were entrusted to Andra. To study and design a deep geological disposal facility, Andra conducted research in various disciplines ranging from geology to numerical simulation, as well as studies on materials and the environment. To conduct these studies, Andra’s hundred or so scientists rely on French and international partners recognised in their fields. It also develops and uses tools including its Meuse/Haute-Marne Underground Research Laboratory, Perennial Observatory of the Environment and digital equipment.
Read an interview of Frédéric Plas, Research and Development Director at Andra
Cigeo's facilities and operation
will be located in Meuse/Haute-Marne and will consist of an underground area (for waste disposal) and surface facilities spread over two areas, as well as links between the surface and the underground. Waste disposal will take place for over 100 years and the facility will be expanded as space is needed. It will then be closed to ensure the containment of waste over very long periods of time without the need for human action.
Safety: anticipating risks
The main purpose of Cigeo is to protect humans and the environment from the danger posed by the most highly radioactive waste, while keeping the burden to be borne by future generations to a minimum. Cigeo is designed to be safe during construction, an operation period of one hundred years, and after its closure, so that its impact is limited and does not pose a risk to humans and the environment during these different phases. Cigeo’s safety relies to a large extent on the geological stratum in which the underground facilities will be built, as well as design choices and safeguards.
Over 100 years of operations
Long-lived radioactive waste management implies long-term time scales: the centre will operate for more than a century and ensure the protection of man and the environment over hundreds of thousands of years. In order not to transfer the financial burden of this centre to future generations, its funding is assured as of now by the producers of radioactive waste.
Stepwise development, pilot phase and retrievability
The development and construction of Cigéo will be progressive and flexible, with opportunities to re-appraise and re-direct the project, if necessary, in light of the data and experience feedback acquired during the initial pilot phase, and later during operations of the repository. In particular, waste packages could be retrieved from the disposal facility throughout its entire service life, lasting hundreds of years.
A project anchored in the region
For over 20 years, Andra has played a major role in Meuse/Haute-Marne. Alongside the local leaders and population, Andra has been preparing for the future Cigeo centre so that it is an opportunity for the region.