Fessenheim Technocentre: a circular economy project for metals TFA

On May the 19th, Sfen organized a webinar on the project for a technocentre in Fessenheim. Designed by EDF and Orano, it aims to recover very low-level metallic materials starting in 2031.

Sfen wants to thank Olivier Giraud, Director of the Waste Sector Projects Line, Deconstruction and Waste Projects Department (DP2D – EDF), and Jean-Michel Romary, Dismantling and Waste Director (Orano) for their presentation, as well as Laurence Piketty, President of Technical Section 12 of Sfen (Dismantling and waste).

While French regulations considered waste to be radioactive not according to its radioactivity but its place of production, a decree now authorizes the recovery of metallic materials under certain conditions. The recovery of this VLL waste makes it possible to envisage the strengthening of a circular economy within the nuclear industry while preserving storage resources. As a reminder, VLL waste is managed by the National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (Andra) and stored, since 2003, in a dedicated center, the Industrial Center for Consolidation, Warehousing, and Disposal (Cires), in the French department of Aube.

In France, two metal deposits with significant recovery issues have been identified: the diffusers and their circuits resulting from the dismantling of the Georges Besse enrichment plant at Orano Tricastin (recoverable part estimated at 136,000 tonnes) and the steam generators (SGs) from nuclear power plants (recoverable portion estimated at 100,000 tonnes), which are replaced during the exploitation of the reactor or removed during the dismantling operations. In addition, the producers estimate that 500,000 tons of very low-level radioactive metal waste, that are potentially recoverable, will be produced in France following the dismantling of the existing facilities.

The webinar is available in French on Sfen’s YouTube channel.

The project’s schedule

First, construction takes place at the Fessenheim site. One of the reasons put forward during the webinar is the voluntarism of the public authorities who are mobilizing for the preservation of industrial and nuclear jobs in the region despite the closure of the plant in 2020. Obtaining the building permit is now planned for 2026 and commissioning in 2031. Upstream, the public debate is planned for the period 2023-2024.

 How does it work?

Large components such as steam generators will be decontaminated, and valuable parts will be cut up and then melted into ingots. Those that are not will be sent to the Industrial Center for Regrouping, Warehousing, and Storage (Cires) as is the case today. The metals already cut upstream will undergo a phase of control or even decontamination then they will be shaped into ingots in a melting furnace.

Who will own the ingots once recycled?

The owner of the waste is the one who sends the materials for decontamination. Once decontaminated, the ingots will be the property of the operator, probably a joint EDF/Orano company. ■

Published  on 1st June 2022

By Sfen

Photo credit – ©AFP – Sébastien Bozon