Introduction

The period from September 2014 to May 2015 was the Board's 8th full year in operation. This report (Report no. 9) consists of an evaluation of the research that has been presented to the Board during this period. As in previous years, a large proportion of this report is devoted to examining nuclear waste issues, monitoring the Cigéo disposal project which concerns waste registered on the French industrial programme for waste management (plan industriel de gestion des déchets - PIGD) and monitoring the Astrid programme, which focuses on the building of a prototype 4thGeneration fast-neutron reactor (FNR) and research on the transmutation of americium.

Chapter 1 is devoted to Cigéo. The Board takes note that the construction application (DAC) for Cigéo will not be filed in 2015, despite this being a requirement of the act of 28 June 2006. The delay is due to Andra's decision to take account of the conclusions of the public debate and the need to consolidate the Construction application file. Cigéo is a project conducted on a hitherto unequalled scale, which relies on numerous innovative technologies. The new deadline for the filing of the BA has been set for 2017. The Board sincerely hopes that this schedule will be respected in order to clarify the management of LLHLW and LLILW. In this chapter, the Board evaluates the changes made to the project since last year and the research on LLILW packages. On this subject, the Board is pleased to note that several of its previous observations and recommendations, especially on the fire endurance of bituminous waste packages, have led to further research that will be useful for analysing the safety of Cigéo when in service.

However, the underground storage of LLHW and LLILW is only one of the problems posed by the management of wastes in the downstream part of the nuclear fuel cycle. That is why, in chapters 2 and 3, the Board investigates the management of LLLLW and waste with Augmented Natural Radioactivity, which is less active but exists in large quantities. This management requires the creation of new storage infrastructures whose locations must be analysed with great care.

The dismantling of decommissioned facilities is also a major problem for which the studies and deliberations are at a very early stage. The Board devotes chapter 4 to this issue. Certain members of the French parliamentary office for the evaluation of scientific and technological options (Office parlementaire d’évaluation des choix scientifiques et technologiques – OPECST) have requested the immediate launch of a search for resources to implement a coherent and effective global policy in this field. The Board will be closely monitoring the essential studies and research to be carried out by the responsible bodies.

Before commenting on the key events in the international overview (chapter 6), the Board devotes chapter 5 to the "Astrid" industrial demonstrator project for a Generation IV reactor. Astrid differs in numerous respects from the FNRs built to date in France and abroad. The innovations must be successfully implemented as they should guarantee greater safety in relation to Generation III reactors. The Board has taken note of the public authorities' announcement of their willingness to continue the research on FNRs capable of the multi-recycling of plutonium and making better use of uranium resources. These are currently the only reactors with the potential to transmute certain minor actinides contained in long-lived waste.

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Since the publication of its previous report in June 2014, the Board presented its Report no. 8 to OPECST and to the relevant ministerial departments. A delegation from the Board visited Tréveray on 5 February to present its report to members of the CLIS (local information and monitoring committee) at the Bure laboratory.

The Board (cf. Appendix I) followed the same working methodology as in previous years. It conducted eight day-long hearings (cf. Appendix II), and six other shorter half-day hearings, all held in Paris, in addition to a certain number of additional meetings with legal specialists. The Board members – all volunteers – heard 83 people from Andra and the CEA, as well as from French and foreign academic institutions and industrial organisations (cf. Appendix III). These hearings brought together around sixty people on average and were also attended by representatives of the French Nuclear Safety Authority, Areva, EDF, the French Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute, the central administration and OPECST.

The Board devoted a whole day to visiting the Lagunes and COMURHEX II facilities at the Areva Malvési site (cf. Appendix IV).

To prepare this report, the Board held a 2-day pre-seminar during its visit to the Areva sites at Le Creusot and Saint-Marcel near Chalon-sur-Saône. It also held numerous internal meetings, including a five-day residential seminar. A list of the Board's hearings and visits can be found in appendix II of this report. A list of documents received from the organisations that participated in the hearings is provided in Appendix V.

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