Remembering the past

All disposal facilities for radioactive waste are designed to remain safe over timescales based on the half-lives of the disposed waste and ranging from several decades to several millennia.


Ensuring safe management over the long term implies that Andra provides general information on all radioactive waste located in France. Andra keeps the memory of every French disposal facility with a view to handing it down to future generations in order:

  • to inform them about the existence and content of the site, notably with regard to human intrusions;
  • to preserve that memory in spite of potential future societal disruptions, such as wars, large disasters, etc.;
  • to facilitate their understanding of the possible phenomena being observed  and, if need be, to allow them to implement corrective measures under adequate conditions, and
  • to allow them to make sound decisions in full knowledge of the facts with regard to the future of the site and with due account of technical and societal evolutions.


That memory-preservation system relies on the following five mechanisms:


Two so-called “active-memory” mechanisms over the short and medium terms, ranging from a few decades to one century, in order:

  • to Inform the various publics concerned (through the site information newspaper, visitors ‘centre, Internet site, etc.) in order to maintain the memory as long as possible after the operation phase of the facility, and
  • to monitor the sound management of the facility and to inform local populations and the Local Information Committee (CLI) accordingly.


Three passive-memory mechanisms over the longer term, ranging from a few centuries to one millennium, as follows:

  • a detailed memory, as a documentary base covering all phases during the lifetime of the facility, in order to ensure its management and the potential future use of the site, in two copies, the first to be kept on site and the second to be deposited at the French National Archives;
  • a summary memory, holding in a single volume and intended for decision-makers, whether local (prefect, mayors, notaries, etc.) or national (ministries, etc.), and broader audiences (associations, national authorities, international organisations [NEA, IAEA, etc.] and the public at large. It gathers the major knowledge about the disposal facility in order to make decisions in full knowledge of the facts, and
  • easements or any other legal instrument registered in the cadastre in order to ensure that any future use of the site and of its vicinity is made in full knowledge of the facts.


The memory of the CSM disposal facility

The “Centre de la Manche” disposal facility (CSM), which was the first disposal facility ever to be built in France, ran from 1969 to 1994, and is now in its post-closure monitoring period since then. The detailed memory of the facility includes more than 10,000 documents covering every phase of its entire lifetime. Only about 100 documents (equal to less than 1%) are currently necessary for monitoring it. That memory-preservation system is updated every five years in order keep track of the site's memory. A copy has been filed at the French National Archives since 2004.


For more information, please download (document in French):

Mémoire de synthèse pour les générations futures (PDF – 27.39 Mo)
That 169-page document presents the major information concerning the facility.


Example of a detailed-memory box  for the CSM on permanent paper.
Example of a detailed-memory box  for the CSM on permanent paper.


The memory of the CSFMA disposal facility for low- and intermediate-level waste

With regard to the disposal facility for low- and intermediate-level waste (CSFMA) located in the Aube district, the memory-preservation system works on an ongoing basis. It is structured according to the same mechanism as for the CSM. Hence, Andra, from digital files, does print on permanent paper all documents which must be kept for the memory preservation of disposal facilities.



The memory of the CSTFA disposal facility for very-low-level waste

The disposal facility for very-low-level waste (CSTFA) located in the Aube district does not require any specific memory-preservation mechanism. In fact, the facility will be in service for 30 years, followed by a 30-year monitoring period. For shorter disposal timescales than 100 years, conventional archiving techniques are sufficient.


Reflection on memory preservation at a multi-millennium scale

With regard to its projects of disposal facilities for high-level and intermediate-level long-lived (HL/IL-LL) waste and low-level long-lived (LL-LL) waste, Andra will apply the same type of measures as for surface facilities. However, asthis kind of waste remains radioactive over longer periods, Andra is conducting and sharing worldwide reflections on memory preservation over multi-millennium scales.

Today, we still have a heritage from the past that includes rupestrian paintings, parchments, various manufactured artefacts and engineered structures, such as megaliths, pyramids, etc. Preserving memory over very long timescales is therefore possible under various forms. The main issue, however, is to preserve the meaning (of that memory).


Disposal facilities: preserving a collective memory for future generations

Disposal facilities: preserving a collective memory for future generations (PDF - 2.35 Mo)




In order to prepare the memory preservation of a future deep geological repository, Andra has implementated a support demonstrators over two million years : The sapphire disk.


Page last updated Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 16:34