High-level waste and intermediate-level long-lived waste

The 2006 Planning Act on the sustainable management of radioactive materials and waste stipulates that the research and studies on this waste shall be pursued according to the three following complementary venues, which were already mentioned as R&D venues in the December 1991 Waste Act:

  •  partitioning and transmutation of long-lived elements, so that an assessment can be made in 2012 of the industrial prospects of reactors allowing transmutation and a prototype installation set in operation before 31 December 2020;
  •  reversible disposal in deep geological formations, in order that a license application can be filed in 2015, and, subject to such an authorization, the repository can be commissioned in 2025; the R&D programme concerning this venue is notably carried at in the Meuse and Haute-Marne Centre (lien vers CMHM dans les premières pages)
  •  storage, in order, at least in 2015, to create new storage installations or modify existing ones in order to meet the needs.


While the first venue is entrusted to the CEA ,  the other ones are entrusted to Andra.


More specifically, geological disposal R&D priorities are the following:


    • Identifying within the so-called 250 km2 transposition zone as defined by the Dossier 2005 Argile (renvoi sur Dossier 2005) a restricted zone of interest (of some 30km2) to site underground installations with options for the surfaces ones, for the geological repository, notably through geological surveys, boreholes and seismic campaign,
    • Pursuing the LSMHM scientific experimental programme and complete it with technological demonstrations (underground or at surface, notably at the Technological exhibition Facility),
    • Optimizing the repository concepts from the proposed ones in the “Dossier 2005 Argile” (renvoi sur dossier 2005), 
    • Conducting a consultation and information programme for the local populations, through the introduction of social sciences in the repository siting process, 
    • Working on long-term memory conservation (sites and waste inventory).

In the framework of the mission entrusted upon Andra by the Waste Act of 30 December 1991, the Agency presented to the Ministers for Research and Industry in 2005 a report on the feasibility of deep geological disposal for high-level and long-lived radioactive waste. 

The report, representing the sum of the last 15 years of investigations, includes two parts:

  • An feasibility-assessment report on clay formations, based notably on the work conducted on the site of the Meuse/Haute-Marne Underground Laboratory and in foreign laboratories;
  • A report concerning the assets of granite rocks based on the available bibliography on French granites and on the investigations carried out by Andra under research partnerships with foreign laboratories.  


Apart from the regulatory review (ASN with IRSN) and the assessment by the CNE, an International Peer Review of the “Dossier 2005 Argile” concerning deep geological disposal in the Callovo-Oxfordian Formation was carried out under the NEA aegis.


Schematic diagram of the installations at the future HL/IL-LL repository

Schematic diagram of the installations at the future HL/IL-LL repository: Cigéo

Page last updated Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 16:32