Research on nuclear wastes
The "VISIATOME" opened its doors on the 10th of April 2005.
This is the first visitor centre in France open to the general public which explains radioactivity and offers displays and information more specifically on radioactive waste and the possible long term management routes. The visitor centre is located at Marcoule nearby the CEA research centre. The VISIATOME is dedicated to facilitate the public access to the scientific and the technical culture. It features one permanent exhibition, and from time to time other temporary exhibitions on selected themes, on a total surface area of 600 m2. The construction of the VISIATOME was financed 50% by CEA, and 50% by local authorities (general and regional councils) together with the European Union (ERDF).
As all industries, the nuclear industry produces waste. In France, 84% of the total volume of such nuclear waste is treated and disposed on an industrial basis by Andra, the State-owned agency for radioactive waste management. The remainder, 16%, has been dealt with since 1992 through an important and comprehensive three-way research programme; two are managed by CEA who also contributes actively to the third one managed by Andra.
As part of an international consensus, the research has demonstrated that one solution for the final waste remaining in the long term is reversible geological disposal : this has been partly confirmed by CEA long-term modelling work on disposal materials. CEA is also working on final waste containment systems, to reduce waste volume and improve and demonstrate system integrity in the very long term. CEA is carrying out complementary studies on the chemical partitioning of minor actinides and their transmutation within fast neutron reactors or dedicated systems, with the aim of reducing radiotoxicity and the time during which they would remain harmfulof the final waste : the scientific and technical feasibility of partitioning additional radionuclides has been acquired at the laboratory scale, appropriate molecules and partitioning processes have been refined; the feasibility of fuel assemblies for transmutation has been.
CEA carries out research with numerous partners: primarily with CNRS and French universities, but also in the context of European (for example, the Actinet network of excellence) and with international partners.
Figures & research resources
CEA research relies on teams and installations at its Marcoule centre, which houses all its R&D and demonstration resources for radioactive waste management studies:
- Atalante: a large research complex encompassing chemistry and shielded cells laboratories,
- Phénix: fast neutron research reactor,
- CECER: Centre for the development and the technological demonstration of containment and long term storage systems.
- Access to the Visiatome website. (website - French only)
- Access to the Radioactive waste management research, magazine Clefs no. 46.