Fessenheim Technocentre: The CNDP Announces a Public Debate

On February 14, 2024, the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP) announced a public debate concerning the Technocentre project at Fessenheim on the site of the nuclear power plant closed in 2020. The project will enable the valorisation of metals resulting from dismantling nuclear facilities.

The dismantling of nuclear installations and the replacement of major components will generate a certain quantity of metallic waste. In France, two significant metal resources have been identified for valorisation: diffusers and their circuits from the dismantling of the Georges Besse enrichment plant at Orano Tricastin (valuable part estimated at 136,000 tonnes) and the steam generators (SG) of nuclear power plants (valuable part estimated at 100,000 tonnes), which are replaced during the reactor’s operation or removed during dismantling operations. Moreover, producers estimate that a total of 500,000 tonnes of very low-level radioactive metallic waste, potentially valorisable, will be produced in France at the end of dismantling existing installations. Valorisation is made possible by a decree (No. 2022-175) adopted in 2022. Before this decree, French regulations considered waste radioactive not based on its radioactivity but on its place of production. France’s practices then contrasted with many countries, including Germany, Belgium, Sweden, and the United States, where regulations generally associate storage and valorisation (IRSN 2016).

Two years after the decree’s publication and following the referral by the EDF group, the National Commission for Public Debate (CNDP) announced a public debate for the Technocentre project on the site of the Fessenheim plant. This will enable the valorisation of metallic materials melted into ingots.

The recycling of this very low-level waste (VLLW) allows for the strengthening of a circular economy within the nuclear sector. “Recycling a tonne of metal saves natural resources and results in 60% less CO2 emissions compared to producing that tonne of steel from ores,” explains Sylvain Granger, Director of Dismantling and Waste at EDF and Executive President of Cyclife. By the end of the year, an independent commission will be appointed and charged with leading the public debate on this project.

Discover the project in detail via our webinar [Replay in French] Circular Economy: the new Technocentre project at Fessenheim. ■

Gaïc Le Gros (Sfen)

Photo – Fessenheim nuclear power plant ©EDF – DIDIER MARC/PWP