For waste management that respects future generations: our opinion for the CIGEO public inquiry

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Published on 30/09/2021

The Voices of Nuclear, a citizen association, supports the Cigeo project for the geological disposal of the most dangerous radioactive waste, the result of 30 years of studies that have resulted in a safe project that will allow the nuclear industry to continue to make a major contribution to the energy supply of France and Europe and to climate protection for many decades to come.

Storage in geological layers is the international benchmark solution for the sustainable management of high-level, long-lived waste, supported by the European Union (Waste Directive 2011), the OECD / NEA and the IAEA. No proposed alternative solution offers such protection for living things and the environment.

The dossier presented by ANDRA to the public inquiry, which combines technical and didactic explanations, convincingly exposes Cigeo’s short and long-term safety. Thanks to the successive barriers formed by the waste packages, the repository structure itself and the geological formation that surrounds it, the living environment will be protected from contact with hypothetical radioactive leaks for hundreds of thousands of years, that is to say beyond the period when these substances would present a danger to living beings.

The declaration of public utility is important because it allows the acquisition of land necessary for the development of the project. It will be followed by many stages framing the very gradual and careful implementation of the project, as well as the measures planned to guarantee the “reversibility” of the repository, bringing the necessary adaptability of the project to technical developments as well as to energy policy decisions.

From the outset, the CIGEO project has been the subject of rare transparency and ANDRA has followed all the legal and technical steps with rigor.

Despite this, opponents of the Cigeo project are doing everything to prevent its implementation, in particular by preventing the holding of public information meetings, while complaining of a lack of information on the part of ANDRA and the allegedly undemocratic nature of the authorization process.

The same people who, in the name of future generations, would like to prevent the isolation of very long-lived waste in deep storage, propose to keep it on the surface – where it would be much more vulnerable – while waiting for a “better” solution…

We believe that on the contrary, by rejecting the result of more than three decades of research and development leading to the Cigeo1 project, the opponents lack respect vis-à-vis future generations on who will weigh the burden of managing the waste that we will have left them.

Their goal is clear: to prevent the implementation of a safe and sustainable management solution for nuclear waste, so that they can then point out the absence of a solution and demand the end of nuclear power generation.

We would like to stress that these opponents are not representative of the entire population, a majority of which is in favor of nuclear energy2.

Progress towards the Cigeo project demonstrates that a sustainable, safe and valid solution for waste management is well underway in France. This advance would be useful at the European level where the major argument of opponents to keep nuclear power away from “green” funding (by excluding it from the Taxonomy of projects eligible for such funding) is based on the alleged absence of such a solution.

We, the Voices, consider that it is high time to trust science and move forward towards the realization of the Cigeo repository, to enable the sustainable management of waste from our nuclear power program and thus meet the expectations of French citizens of benefit from clean, reliable and accessible electricity.

Let us not allow the fear and demagoguery of a minority, however determined, to deprive us of an essential source of energy for the future.

1 In accordance with the recommendations of the Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Technologies, and the Parliamentary Office for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Choices.