Bure (France)

underground waste research "laboratory" , several 100m deep

Facilities in Bure

plantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
BureLLW/ILW repository

After two industrial accidents the drillings for a possible ultimate waste disposal planned in east France (Bure) were preliminarily stopped. The stop was administered for first five months. In the middle of May a 400 Kilo heavy air supply pipe killed a worker in one of the two pits. In December in the same pit a worker had fallen and hurt himself. After a test phase of several years it is to be decided, whether the first French ultimate waste disposal will be built here. Environmentalists fear that the decision for Bure is already made, because the government declined originally planned sample drillings at other locations.


The French government is expected to decide very soon on licenses for underground waste research laboratories.
The National Assessment Committee (CNE) recommends re-orienting the waste management program to put only non-heat-generating transuranic (TRU) wastes in deep repositories, leaving them easily accessible for three centuries, after which there would be less reason to retrieve them. High-level wastes (HLW), vitrified or as spent fuel, could be placed in "sub-surface" storage, with continued monitoring and assured retrievability, potentially for recovery of useful isotopes.
In French classification, vitrified HLW is known as type C waste and TRU wastes as type B. The projected volume of C wastes is very small, while B wastes, encased in cement or bitumen packages, are much more voluminous but much less radioactive. Both categories are products of reprocessing.
Political signals have been strong that the government will issue license decrees for two laboratories: one several hundred meters deep, no doubt at Bure (eastern France), and one between 30 and 100 meters deep, probably at La Chapelle-Baton in the Vienne department.