The major R&D programme for Andra is the one concerning the geological disposal of high-level and long-lived intermediate-level radioactive waste (the HAVL Project), followed by the radium-bearing and graphite waste one in terms of budget.
Geological disposal R&D priorities (high-level and long-lived intermediate-level radioactive waste – HAVL Project) are the following:
This planning is described in a development plan (PDD) established by Andra and with a synthesis available on Andra website in French.
The storage venue, which is entrusted to Andra according to the 2006 Planning Act, does not need R&D as storage concepts have already been implemented, for instance at the AREVA La Hague facility. It must be considered as an industrial implementation, taking into account and organising future waste or spent fuel throughputs.
The other major programme, although of a quite smaller order of magnitude if compared to the previous one, is the FA-VL project (long-lived low-level waste) concerning mainly radium-bearing and graphite waste.
Its initial budget was of the order of 2.5 M.Euros until 2004. It was then stopped upon decision by the waste producers concerning its funding and cost. Following the National Plan for the management of radioactive materials and waste, established by the 2006 Planning Act on the sustainable management of radioactive materials and waste (Act 2006-739 of 28 June 2006), it has been restarted in 2006 and a call for expression of interest was launched by mid-2008 to identify candidate municipalities among the some 3000 ones with a potentially suitable geology (shallow disposal).
Inventory includes radium-bearing waste (70.000 m3), graphite waste (100.000 m3) and other long-lived waste such as used sealed sources or bituminous waste (30.000 to 40.000 m3).
Estimated costs are from 200M to 350M Euros for its construction and an annual running cost from 10 to 30M Euros during at least 20 years
FA-VL waste disposal R&D priorities are the following:
Of course, the various surface disposal facilities do need as well R&D work in order to optimise current design or operation (CSFMA and CSTFA operations, acceptance at the CSFMA of new types of waste such recently the pressure-vessel-heads of NPP reactors, or CSM cap). Nevertheless these budgets are not comparable to the ones concerning the 2 above projects.
Considering the “add-on” process of the current PUREX process, a comprehensive test of such a process (DIAMEX-SANEX) has already been conducted in the CEA Atalante facility (located in Marcoule) in 2005 and the current development activity focuses on simplification and consolidation of the process.
The main feature of the GEN IV process is to separate the main part of uranium in a first step followed by an “all actinides separation” process as a second step (GANEX = Global ActiNide EXtraction process). This second process is not adaptable to current PUREX facilities and is consistent with homogeneous recycling whereas DIAMEX-SANEX can meet both heterogeneous and homogeneous recycling strategies. Considering R&D, an integrated test of GANEX will be performed by the end of 2008 in the CEA Atalante facility.
In the field of nuclear fuel fabrication, the R&D plan aim to achieve detailed design of a GEN IV core production facility and of a minor actinide loaded fuel assembly fabrication facility (2012).