launch of a public consultation on a fuel storage pool project

A preliminary public consultation opened on Monday, November 22, about a project for a huge pool of nuclear fuels in La Hague (Manche), to respond to the risk of saturation of the current basins.

Everyone can, until February 18 on the projet-pygiène.edf.fr website, express their views on this basin project, which aims to “Avoid saturation” current swimming pools in La Hague (Manche), according to the National Commission for Public Debate. A first public meeting is scheduled for Monday at 7:30 p.m. in Beaumont-Hague.

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The swimming pool, the cost of which is estimated at 1.25 billion euros, would have a capacity of 6,500 tonnes of fuel. The current basins contain just under 10,000 tonnes, the equivalent of 100 reactor cores. A second basin is planned next to the first subject to consultation.

The launch of this EDF project is “Really urgent”, faced with the risk of saturation of the current basins, estimated in June 2020, the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN). All the fuels irradiated in French power stations to produce electricity converge on the swimming pools at La Hague for cooling, before being reprocessed by Orano. If the tanks are full, the reactors must gradually stop.

Environmentalists are against it

Socialist senator from Cherbourg, Jean-Michel Houllegatte, is in favor of the project. Orano’s recycling unit employs 4,800 people in France.

Europe Ecologie-The Greens (EELV) and Greenpeace are, on the other hand, opposed and advocate the storage of spent fuel, dry, next to each plant, without reprocessing, as is done abroad. According to EDF and Orano, reprocessing aims to reduce the volume of nuclear waste. But environmentalists believe reprocessing is an operation “Extremely polluting” which does not contribute to reducing the volume of waste. According to them, the recycled fuels manufactured by Orano from spent fuels are, in fact, very little used.

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In a parliamentary report published in 2018, the current minister of ecological transition, Barbara Pompili, then deputy La République en Marche (LRM), said “Continue to question the need to build at great expense a centralized swimming pool with two pools, each practically the size of a football field”.

“Here we have a serious question: is it reasonable to leave such a quantity of nuclear material in the same place”, declared that year the elected after visiting La Hague. “Reprocessing is a French exception which contributes to the increase in safety risks and has questionable economic relevance”, wrote Mme Pompili in his report, recommending to study the track of dry storage.

The World with AFP