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CEA research on... | Energies | Nuclear energy | Dismantling
CEA research on...
When a nuclear facility reaches the end of its service life, it has to be dismantled and cleaned up. Dismantling involves disassembling all the equipment and ancillary systems on the site. The clean-up phase consists in removing most of the residual radioactivity in the facilities by means of scraping, or the partial destruction of the engineered structures. The waste resulting from the clean-up and dismantling operations is conditioned and then transferred to specific waste outlets.As a nuclear operator, the CEA is responsible for dismantling its nuclear facilities and managing the waste resulting from such activities. It is also a key player in research on techniques and technologies used in such dismantling operations.
The specificity of the CEA lies in the broad range of facilities that it operates: experimental reactors, chemistry laboratories, waste and effluent treatment plants, etc. The dismantling of each facility gives rise to a specific case each time.Depending on the surface area and facility configuration, the equipment needs to be dismantled and the radioactivity removed from the walls, pipes, reactor vessels, etc. Various chemical, mechanical and thermal processes are employed to complete these decontamination operations. If the workers performing these operations are at risk of being contaminated, those must be carried out remotely using robotic devices, often developed in-house by the CEA.
The CEA strategy complies with the recommendations issued by the safety authorities: immediate and complete dismantling of facilities whenever feasible, to reduce the risks as quickly as possible and to benefit from the knowledge of operating personnel. All of the CEA actions in this field are governed by French legislation which is backed by specific regulations.There are 22 civil licensed nuclear facilities currently being dismantled at the CEA out of a total of 43. Around 800 employees have been assigned to these operations which are financed via a specific multi-year fund.
The main clean-up and dismantling sites at the CEA are:
To improve safety levels during operations and reduce both the deadlines and costs, radioactive measurements, cutting & decontamination processes, and robotics are all the subject of R&D programmes in collaboration with the industry. Among the technologies developed by the CEA, it is worth mentioning:
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.