In France, radioactive waste is split into five categories according to the activity level and the life of the radioelements it contains. Almost all the total radioactivity and less than 5% of the volume are concentrated in the first two categories. They have been the subject of research under the Bataille Act of 30 December 1991. This research has led to a project looking at disposal in a deep geological repository on the border between Meuse and Haute-Marne, known as CIGEO. The decision about whether or not to construct a disposal facility of this kind is to be made by the French parliament in 2015-2016.
For the next two categories of low radioactivity, which represent around 84% of the volume of waste in the inventory, there is a clearly defined and well tested system of management. A disposal facility is being researched for the fifth category, low-level long-lived waste.
THE MOST HIGHLY RADIOACTIVE CATEGORIES
High-level waste (HLW): High-level waste accounted for 96.05% of the total radioactivity of waste but only 0.2% of the volume of the national inventory. It is stored at the La Hague and Marcoule sites. The radioactive material is poured into a glass block inside a stainless steel container, except for some legacy waste which is not yet being conditioned.
Intermediate-level long-lived waste (ILW-LL): This waste accounts for 3.87% of the total radioactivity of waste and 4.6% of the volume of the national inventory. Most of it is stored at the La Hague and Marcoule sites. Only 36% of ILW-LL is conditioned. Most legacy waste put into storage in the past still needs to be retrieved and processed.CIGEO is designed for the definitive disposal of both types of waste in geological strata at a depth of 500 m. The dimensions of the facility will be important. The heat released by the high-level waste over a long period of time will be a particular factor determining these dimensions. The ILW-LL waste does not give off any heat.
Link to the presentation of the CIGEO project
NEXT: PANORAMA OF THE LEAST RADIOACTIVE CATEGORIES
Access to page in french.