Andra submits an application for the authorization to create Cigéo

On January 16, 2023, Andra applied to the Ministry of Energy Transition for authorization to create Cigéo. This is a key step for the geological disposal project, which marks the beginning of a new phase, with the examination of the application by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) and the public inquiry.

First of all, it is the fruit of 30 years of progressive development that is regularly evaluated,” emphasizes Pierre-Marie Abadie, Andra’s Director General. The project has been refined over time on the scientific and technical levels. Today we are submitting a Cigéo DAC file based on well-defined design principles and a robust demonstration of safety,” he said.

As a reminder, Cigéo is the French project for a deep repository for radioactive waste. It is designed to receive all the high-level, and intermediate-level long-lived waste (HLW and HLW) already produced and that will be produced by existing nuclear facilities (nuclear power plants, research centers, etc.), as well as by authorized nuclear facilities (including the EPR in Flamanville).

Suppose the investigation is favorable to the project. In that case, it will conclude with the publication of the decree authorizing the creation of the plant, which is issued by the Prime Minister and countersigned by the minister responsible for nuclear safety. This decree is expected in 2027.

Cigeo’s timetable: a first package to be sent down by 2035-2040

Following this, “we will be able to begin construction and carry out start-up tests,” Frédéric Plas, director of the Cigéo project, explained to Sfen in September 2022. Authorization for commissioning, and thus the descent of the first package, is planned for 2035-2040. All of this is part of a pilot industrial phase – the first stage in the progressive development of the Cigéo disposal center. This phase, which would begin at the time of the decree, would last between 15 and 25 years. The end of the pilot industrial phase would therefore occur by 2050, taking the upper range. At the end of this pilot industrial phase, Andra will submit a report that will be evaluated so that Parliament can base its decision on the conditions for continuing the Cigéo project.” ■

Gaïc Le Gros (Sfen)