France publishes radioactive waste inventory

6 August 2012

At the end of 2010, there were some 1,320,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste in France, according to a new national radioactive waste inventory published by Andra. This represents an increase of almost 13% since the last national inventory was published for 2007.

Nuclear power accounted for almost 60% of this waste, with research contributing the second largest portion of 26%.

The majority of the waste in France in 2010 (830,000 cubic meters; some 63% of the total volume) was short-lived low and intermediate-level waste, which is mainly associated with the operation and maintenance of nuclear facilities. Over 92% of the LILW-SL had been disposed of by the end of 2010; at two facilities the now-closed ‘Centre de Stockage de la Manche’ disposal facility and the Aube facility in Eastern France.

Some 360,000 cubic meters (27% by volume) of the waste was classified as very-low-level waste, mainly originating from operation and decommissioning of nuclear facilities. Almost half of this quantity had been disposed of.

There were also 87,000 cubic meters of long-lived LLW; 40,000 cubic meters of long lived intermediate level waste and 2700 cubic meters of high-level waste in France at the end of 2010. Some 13,929 tHM of spent fuel was also in storage at the end of 2010, although this is not considered a waste.

Andra, the French national radioactive waste management agency is responsible for performing and annual inventory of radioactive materials and waste in France, and comprising information about their type, quantity and whereabouts. Every three years, as part of this general interest mission entrusted to it under the French Planning Act dated 28 June 2006, Andra updates and publishes this information in the National Inventory.

The 2012 edition of the inventory was published in August. It describes the waste that existed on 31 December 2010, as outlined above, and forecasts the expected quantities of radioactive waste for 2020 and 2030.

The total volume of radioactive waste in France is expected to reach 1.9 million cubic meters in 2020 and 2.7 cubic meters by 2030, according to the Andra predictions. The largest constituents of this waste will be LILW-SL in 2020 (1 million cubic meters) and then VLLW in 2030 (1.3 million cubic meters).

There are expected to be modest rises in the volumes of long-lived radioactive waste (both low and intermediate level). HLW volumes are expected to reach 4000 and 5300 cubic meters in 2020 and 2030, respectively.

Beyond 2030, two alternative scenarios have been envisaged. The first scenario envisages the continuation of the nuclear power industry and of the current French strategy of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.

The second scenario assumes the non-renewal of the current nuclear fleet, leading to the discontinuation of spent fuel processing.

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