This week, members from the Theddlethorpe Community Partnership visited Andra, the French National Radioactive Waste Agency, to see first-hand the Underground Research Laboratory and proposed site for France’s Geological Disposal facility. The Theddlethorpe group met with leaders from communities around the proposed facility and Andra subject experts at the site.
Having already selected a site at Meuse/Haute-Marne in Northeast France, Andra is now applying for a license to construct a geological disposal facility – “The Cigeo Project”. Cigeo will be constructed within a very similar sedimentary host rock to that being considered beneath the Theddlethorpe seabed and it will be used to dispose of similar types of waste to the UK.
Andra has constructed the underground laboratory 500m beneath the surface, adjacent to the site where the Cigeo facility will be built. Here, Partnership members were able to observe scientific and technical research being undertaken deep underground to inform the design of Cigeo and ensure the safety of the facility. This included a tour of full sized “galleries” ten metres in diameter which are being used to demonstrate tunnelling and disposal techniques. Large scale proof-of-concept equipment was also on show, used to demonstrate the feasibility of waste emplacement activities.
An important part of the visit was the opportunity for Partnership members to meet local community leaders and understand their perspectives about the Cigeo project, including construction and operation of the underground laboratory and the economic and environmental effects of hosting such a facility.
The Community Partnership group would like to thank the Andra team for their hospitality. We hope to continue discussions and building relationships with Cigeo community leaders over the coming months to share information and learn from their experience.