IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Enhancing Nuclear Safety



Description of research topics : "Deep disposal"


* Reveal the essential phenomena governing the response of a geological medium to the impact of a research (underground laboratory) or industrial (deep radioactive waste repository) facility.

* Develop design methods and modeling tools to assess radioelement transfers from a repository site.

* Validate models through experiments performed under natural conditions and in the laboratory.

* Provide IRSN experts with the data they need to appraise the site studies carried out by ANDRA, the French National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management, and actively participate in this appraisal work.

Main topics

* The TOURNEMIRE project covers all the experiments carried out at the Tournemire station (Aveyron, south-west France) and the related interpretations. The station consists of a tunnel dug in highly indurated argillite with similar properties to that selected by ANDRA in the east of France for its underground research laboratory. Geological and structural characterization work is in progress on the Tournemire site as a whole, and in the area affected by drift excavations. Geophysical methods are tested there and water flows and present and past element transfers are examined on different scales; studies of the argillite focus on its mechanical properties and its physical-chemical equilibrium with the water it contains.

* The MELODIE project organizes all the tasks required for the maintenance and development of the software bearing its name. The work is covered by a quality assurance program and represents for IRSN the reference code used to assess the impact of a geological repository on the geosphere, based on calculations of radioelement transfers via a porous and/or fractured medium.

* The group responsible for coordinating activities of the site at Bure in the east of France investigates the geology and hydrogeology of the Paris Basin, gathers regional data to build a database, and proposes additional developments to the research carried out by ANDRA at Bure. It plays a significant role in helping to appraise documents submitted by ANDRA to the DSIN (French Directorate for Nuclear Facility Safety).

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