French radioactive waste to double by 2030

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

PARIS (Reuters) - France's highly radioactive waste will more than double by 2030 mainly as spent fuel derived from nuclear reactors mounts up, the French national radioactive waste management agency (Andra) said on Tuesday.

Andra draws up every three years an inventory of sites polluted with radioactivity and details quantities per waste category as well as volume forecasts.

In 2007, high level waste, the most dangerous category, accounted for 95 percent of French waste radioactivity but only 0.2 percent in volume, it said in the inventory report. A complicated scale lists a wide range of different intensities of radioactive waste.

High level waste will rise by 120 percent to 5,060 cubic meters by 2030 out of a total of 2.2 million cubic meters, the Andra report said. The 2.2 million cubic meters itself is twice the 2007 level.

"The agency is taking this figure into account for the design and management of its storage centers," Andra said in a statement.

It takes hundreds of thousands of years for spent nuclear fuel to become non-radioactive and its storage is becoming a crucial issue as new nuclear reactors are due to come online in coming decades.

France has not found permanent underground storage with the capacity to hold the nuclear energy waste already generated and the waste it will generate in the future.

The highly radioactive waste generated so far is stored in above ground facilities at nuclear reactor supplier Areva's fuel reprocessing plant in La Hague on the northwestern coast of Normandy.

Under French law, Areva, will have to bury the waste in a permanent repository by 2025.

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