ASN issues its opinion on the management of low level, long-lived waste (LLW-LL)
In response to a request from the Minister in charge of energy, as required by the French National Radioactive Materials and Waste Management Plan (PNGMDR), ASN issued its opinion on the studies regarding the management of low level, long-lived waste (LLW-LL), contributing to the orientations of the 5th edition of this Plan.
LLW-LL waste implies a heterogeneous range in terms of its radiological and physico-chemical characteristics. It notably comprises graphite waste, radium-bearing waste, some of the bitumen waste in Marcoule and certain uranium conversion processing residues (RTCU) from Orano in Malvési. It requires specific management, because its half-life does not allow it to be disposed of in the existing industrial sites operated by the National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (Andra) in the Aube département. Pending its disposal, LLW-LL waste packages are stored in facilities on producers sites.
The PNGMDR 2016-2018 had notably required Andra to continue with geological investigations on a site currently being studied for the disposal of LLW-LL, to evaluate the inventory of LLW-LL waste liable to be disposed there, to produce a report presenting the technical and safety options for this disposal facility as well as an overall industrial scheme for the management of all LLW-LL waste. The PNGMDR 2016-2018 also asked Andra and the main waste producers to continue with their studies on the radiological characterisation of LLW-LL, their behaviour in the repository and the possibilities of treatment prior to disposal.
The public debate held in 2019, in preparation for the 5th edition of the PNGMDR, confirmed the need to continue this work. Following this debate, the decision was taken to define a management strategy for LLW-LL taking account of their diversity, the safety issues, but also the environmental and local challenges implied by the various management solutions. As part of this strategy, the possible role of the area of interest studied in the Vendeuvre-Soulaines municipality area will be clarified and a final management solution for the waste from the Orano facility in Malvési, notably legacy waste, will have to be defined.
Consistently with these orientations, and following analysis of the studies it received, ASN’s opinion 2020-AV-0357 of 6 August 2020 specifies the areas for work that it recommends for LLW-LL management.
It more particularly urges continuation of the work undertaken under the PNGMDR 2016-2018, such as the consolidation of inventories of the various families of LLW-LL and the periodic reassessment of storage needs, notably in order to allow the decommissioning of nuclear facilities.
ASN considers that, on the basis of a multi-criteria analysis and no later than 31 December 2021, Andra shall submit the outlines of various technical and safety options for the shallow depth disposal facilities for LLW-LL, comparing the health and environmental effects of the various options envisaged. All of the stakeholders concerned, in particular the representatives of the localities actually or liable to be involved, should be encouraged to play a more active role in defining LLW-LL management solutions. A pluralistic working group could notably be set up to establish concrete management solution proposals based on Andra’s work.
ASN also recommends deadlines for Andra’s next design milestones (preliminary design study and then safety options file), for a shallow depth disposal project for LLW-LL in the Vendeuvre-Soulaines municipality area, which will be incorporated into this general strategy.
Finally, ASN considers RTCU must be better integrated in the work being done on the LLW-LL management scenarios. It recommends that studies be continued on an RTCU disposal facility, by involving representatives of the localities actually or liable to be concerned. The aim is to provide the technical and safety options for this facility, at a date set by the next edition of the PNGMDR, with a level of maturity corresponding to the preliminary design study.
To find out more:
ASN opinion 2020-AV-0357 of 6 August 2020
ASN opinion 2016-AV-0357 of 6 August 2020 on the studies concerning the management of low level long-lived waste (LLW-LL), submitted pursuant to the National Radioactive Materials and Waste Management Plan 2016-2018, with a view to drafting the fifth National Radioactive Materials and Waste Management Plan
For the first time, this edition of the Plan was the subject of an environmental assessment, thus providing an integrated overview of challenges associated with the management of radioactive materials and wastes.
Articles 35 to 43 of the Order of 23 February 2017 issued pursuant to the Decree of the same date, implementing Article L. 542 1 2 of the Environment Code and establishing the binding requirements of the PNGMDR 2016‑2018