Andra's major research facility is the LSMHM Underground Research Laboratory sited at Bure in the Meuse district and aiming at studying the feasibility of the reversible geological disposal of high-level and long-lived intermediate-level radioactive waste in the Callovo-Oxfordian clay formation. This facility was licensed on August 3 1999 and its construction as such (access shafts, basic drift network with underground ventilation) has been achieved in 2006. Nevertheless, more drifts and niches are due to excavated for the on-going geological surveys and experimental programmes or the engineering technological demonstrations.
Apart from this underground research laboratory, Andra works on the technological and engineering feasibility of geological disposal and has build at Saudron in 2007, in the Haute-Marne district near the LSMHM, a Technological Centre, the CTE, in order to design and operate prototypes and demonstrators.
The whole project concerning the feasibility of the reversible geological disposal of high-level and long-lived intermediate-level radioactive waste in the Callovo-Oxfordian clay formation (2nd venue of the 2006 Planning Act) means an average annual budget of 60 M.Euros (with a low value towards 2005 and 2006 as the relevant R&D programme was stopped awaiting for the political decision) to be compared with Andra total annual budget of roughly 120 Millions Euros.
The Andra R&D programme planning has been set by the 2006 Planning Act through a few milestones and an update is due to be to be carried out at each triennial issues of the PNGMDR, which means in 2009. The PNGMDR is a public document and the 2006 edition is available in French.
Andra, although running the LSMHM research facility, is not stricto sensu an R&D organisation but rather a programme agency. As such, it does sub-contract and organise research according to a scientific policy which mainly relies on:
CEA is implementing R&D activities in order to develop advance fuel cycle processes. The goal is to reach the 2012 milestone with a comprehensive view of actinides separation processes, actinides loaded fuel fabrication processes, and transmutation data.
As to advanced partitioning, the strategy is to assess two different processes: on one hand, to develop a process that should be considered as an add-on of the current PUREX process and, on the other hand, a GEN IV process R&D activity is also under way.
As to fuel fabrication, CEA activity is structured by the implementation of two projects which aim to achieve detailed design of a GEN IV core production facility and of a minor actinide loaded fuel assembly fabrication facility (2012). Both facilities would be built on the La Hague site and the schedule is decided in order to meet the GEN IV reactor prototypes schedule facility which means that they should be operable by 2017 since the targeted capacity of the core production facility is 10t/year for a 30t heavy metal core. The actinides loaded fuel capacity would be an assembly/year in the homogeneous way (6 kg minor actinides). Along with these facilities design, R&D program are under way both in Marcoule and Cadarache facilities.