France’s ASN begins review of the Cigéo repository

June 28, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Diagram of the Cigéo repository in France. (Image: Andra)

Having deemed the application admissible, France’s nuclear safety authority, Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN), will undertake a technical appraisal of Andra’s application to construct the Cigéo deep geological disposal facility for radioactive waste.

Andra, the French national agency for high-level radioactive waste, submitted a construction license application for Cigéo to ASN on January 16. ASN’s technical review, which is designed to verify that the project meets all applicable safety requirements, is expected to take three years.

According to Andra, the Cigéo application is the culmination of several decades of preliminary research and development work on issues such as site selection, the development of key components for the facility, and its main safety options. Located on the border between the Meuse and Haute-Marne departments of France, Cigéo is designed to dispose of HLW at a depth of 500 meters (1,640 feet) in a geological layer that has been stable for several million years.

The review process: To support its appraisal, ASN has asked the French technical support organization, IRSN, to carry out an expert review of the documentation of Andra’s application.

Standing advisory groups of experts also will consult on the basic assumptions and data used in the documentation, and the facility’s safety during operations, as well as Cigéo’s long-term safety after closure.

In parallel with this technical appraisal work, the French national assessment commission, CNE2, is expected to draw up an opinion on the application, which will be forwarded to the French parliament.

Next steps: Once the technical appraisal has been completed, all institutional entities involved (environmental authority, local information commission, local water commission, local authorities concerned, European Commission) will be consulted, followed by a public inquiry.

Authorization of Cigéo will be granted only after the technical appraisal and consultations have been completed, provided that they conclude the project is acceptable.

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