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Scientific news - 2nd semester 2007



Waste repository

Tournemire becomes part of the IAEA Centres of Excellence Network



On 30 July 2007, the Tournemire experimental station became part of the IAEA network of Centres of Excellence in the area of Training in and demonstration of waste disposal technologies in underground research facilities. The 27 member states in this network pool use of their experimental resources in this scientific field. One of the network’s main aims is to encourage knowledge and technology transfer; it also assists member states who do not have the experimental resources needed to tackle the issues of the feasibility and safety of geological radioactive waste repositories (see presentation of the network on the IAEA website).

The LEHG, IRSN’s laboratory in charge of the Tournemire site, proposed to the excellence network a number of training and research initiatives to be held at the site during the period 2008-2012. These initiatives have been accepted. Tournemire’s inclusion in the network will enable IRSN to promote its research and assessment work within the framework of the programme on geological repositories for high-level radioactive waste to the international community.

 description of the Tournemire experimental station

 IRSN laboratories involved in research on geological repositories :

.LEHG (Laboratoire d'études hydrodynamique et géotechnique – Hydrodynamical and geotechnical transfer laboratory (LEHG))
.LETS (Laboratoire d’étude des transferts dans les sols et sous-sols - Laboratory for near-surface and sub-surface transfer studies)
.SSIAD (Service de sûreté des irradiateurs, des accélérateurs et de la gestion des déchets, ex-Service de sûreté des déchets radioactifs - Irradiator, Accelerator and Radioactive Waste Safety Department, formerly known as the Radioactive Waste Safety Department)




IRSN Certification: also its research



Last July the IRSN obtained ISO 9001 certification for its management system through the quality of all its activities.
For research, as for the other missions of the Institute, this certification is recognition of the credibility of the IRSN, its professionalism, the rigor of its work and its organization. It is therefore a very important element in the confidence of the Institute's partners, which positions it as a reference Institute. Quality certification completed the Peers’ evaluation, which guarantees the appropriateness of the directions and scope of research.


 more about certification and research




ECCOREV Research Federation project launch


 The ECCOREV Research Federation project, based on the "Continental ecosystems and environmental risks" theme was launched on 25 September 2007 at the close of the closing seminar organised by the IFR112 Federal Research Institute - Mediterranean Environmental Science Centre.


In the process of receiving CNRS quality certification, ECCOREV federates 35 research laboratories in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur (PACA) region from its universities and research institutes, including IRSN. The aim of this new structure is to conduct interdisciplinary programmes on the environment involving human and social sciences as well as the so-called "hard" sciences and natural sciences. It will encourage innovative projects focusing primarily on resolving risk-related problems by considering all their aspects - scientific, technological, legal, economic and social.

Launch of PRIME
IRSN is launching the PRIME research project on the application of radioecological sensitivity indicators and multi-criteria methods to industrial site environments, to develop radioactive pollution risk management methods. The IRSN-coordinated project has received financial support in June 2007 from the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Land Use (MEDAD) The PRIME partners will meet for the first time in September. A poster presenting the project has also been awarded the prize for the best poster presentation at the 6th National Radiological Protection Congress organised by the French Radiological Protection Society (SFRP) at Reims on 19-21 June.




MELODIE: radioactive solute transport in a repository


The MELODIE code, which provides 3D simulations of radionuclide plume evolution in a geological environment, is being used for the first time by an IRSN partner as part of a European project. The AVN (Association Viçotte Nucléaire), IRSN’s counterpart institute in Belgium, has selected the tool - developed by IRSN – to participate in coordinated action MICADO as part of FP6. MICADO kicked off in October 2006 and aims to produce a review of the uncertainties (linked to lack of knowledge, model simplification, etc.) associated with the decay of spent fuel. Furthermore, IRSN is managing one of the MICADO tasks, assessing the influence of these uncertainties on the migration of radionuclides in terms of repository components.

MELODIE’s originality lies, above all, in the schemes chosen to solve equations representing water flow and solute transport. Indeed, they are adapted to the strong contrasts found in the properties of the diverse materials making up the structured or natural components in a repository. Moreover, MELODIE offers a means of meshing the space that takes account of the diverse heterogeneities of these components, whilst respecting certain geometric constraints imposed by its high-performance digital schemes.

The MELODIE code was one of the elements used by IRSN to prepare the assessment documentations on the feasibility of a geological repository in a clay formation, presented by ANDRA. Moreover, the IRSN Scientific Committee assessed the code in 2006 and supported its development. MELODIE will be enhanced by use at different scientific bodies, thanks to their feedback and participation in open dialogue with the Institute's partners.