On January 16th, Andra submitted the construction licence application (DAC) of Cigeo, the French project for the deep geological disposal facility for the most highly radioactive waste. This is a crucial step marking both a culmination and a new start for the project. First and foremost, it is the result of 30 years of progressive development under regular evaluation. Over time, the scientific and technological aspects of the project have been refined, supported by intense R&D, including an underground research laboratory, to lead to well-defined design principles and a robust safety demonstration for both operating period and post closure period.
But the submission of the application and the upcoming review by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), together, also represent the start of a new phase: Cigeo is getting ready for the construction phase and Andra is becoming the operator. Although Cigeo still needs additional development and refinement, the Agency is already responsible for it, in terms of reporting to the ASN. Moreover, with the submission, Cigeo reaches the point when a national project, supported by the French State, meets a host region, a territory, the Meuse and Haute-Marne districts.
The review of the DAC by ASN and its technical support IRSN is planned for 30 months, followed by a consultation phase with various actors (national commission board, environmental authority, local authorities, OPECST, etc.) and a public inquiry. At the end of the technical review and the public inquiry, after consulting the French council of State, the decree authorizing the creation of Cigeo could be obtained by 2027, allowing the initial construction to begin of the disposal (stage 1) as part of a pilot industrial phase. After the start-up tests, the commissioning of Cigeo is expected around 2040 and the end of the pilot industrial phase around 2050.