What Is to Be Done with Nuclear Waste?
Hervé NIFENECKER Translation by Elisabeth Huffer
France is in a distinctive position. Almost all of the electricity it produces is carbon-free, thanks to its hydroelectricity and nuclear power. The "Sauvons le Climat" organization endeavors to put forward the pathways that are best adapted and most efficient to further limit carbon dioxide emissions rapidly, thus mitigating the potentially considerable risks associated to uncontrolled climate warming. It is thus duty-bound to be involved in the recently launched debate on the PNGMDR (Plan National de Gestion des Matières et Déchets Radioactifs - National Plan on Management of Radioactive Materials and Waste).
"Sauvons le Climat" which was involved in the previous debates on radioactive wastes considers it is essential, in such a complex issue, to review basic data so as to enable our fellow citizens to make an informed judgment on the impact of radioactive waste and materials, as compared to the part played by nuclear science and technology in the struggle against climate change, and also in numerous other fields, such as medicine, industry, energy independence, competitiveness.
The "PNGMDR" was first published in May 2007. It follows from applying the framework legislation of June 28, 2006 on sustainable management of radioactive waste. Its drafting began in 2003 under the authority of the ASN (Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire - French Nuclear Safety Authority).
The PNGMDR, is updated every three years. It draws up an appraisal of the existing management of radioactive materials and waste, it makes an inventory of foreseeable needs for storage and waste disposal, it indicates the necessary capacities for such installations and specifies storage duration.
This essential and highly technical document deals, for the 2019-2021 time frame, with all the issues relative to the management of radioactive materials and waste whatever their origin (industry, energy, medicine, education, national defense). It is based on a publicly available national inventory of radioactive materials and waste managed by ANDRA (Agence Nationale pour la gestion des Déchets RAdioactifs - National Agency for the Management of Radioactive Waste).
A public debate had been organized from September 2005 to January 2006 (https://www.vie-publique.fr/actualite/alaune/gestion-dechets-nucleaires-debut-du-debat-public.html), prior to the first publication of the document, in May 2006, and the passing of the bill on the management of radioactive waste which was enacted June 28, 2006.
Another, more encompassing debate was organized in 2013 but failed because of the obstruction from organizations that opposed, sometimes physically, any discussion on this subject (https://www.debatpublic.fr/options-generales-gestion-dechets-radioactifs-haute-activite-moyenne-activite-a-vie-longue).
The PNGMDR itself in its 2019-2021 version is, for the first time since its first edition, submitted to public inquiry. The debate was initiated on April 17, 2019.
The full paper endeavors, in the frame of our action for the climate, to present an overall factual view on the amount of waste generated by nuclear reactors, on the management of said waste, and the truth on the risks to which the population is exposed. It focuses on the high level and long lived waste (HLW) that are to be emplaced in the CIGEO (Industrial Center for Geological Disposal) facility. "Save the Climate" may eventually discuss the other issues addressed in the PNGMDR.
Full paper pdf format: What Is to Be Done with Nuclear Waste?