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Title: Radioactive Waste Management - It's Role in contributing and achieving Sustainability. R1.13 The French strategy of waste management: technical and political dimensions of sustainability

The sustainability of an energy policy depends on the manner in which it satisfies environmental, economical and social requirements. Nuclear energy is not an exception. The objectives of the future nuclear systems, as defined in the Generation IV International Forum, tend to optimize the ability of nuclear energy to satisfy sustainable development goals. In this regard, they involve strong commitments concerning waste management policy : five designs in six are based on a closed fuel cycle, in order to minimize the volume and radiotoxicity of final waste, and to recycle the fissile materials to save natural resources. Since its beginnings, the French civil nuclear programme has considered a long-term perspective and has developed spent fuel reprocessing. The French current industrial technology has already permitted to recycle 96% of spent fuel materials, to save 30% of natural resources, to reduce by 5 the amount of waste and to reduce by 10 the waste radiotoxicity, all these benefits for less than 6% of the kWh total cost. This strategy has always been criticized by the nuclear opponents, precisely because they saw that it was a sustainable way, and didn't accept to consider nuclear energy as a sustainable source of power. Two argumentsmore » were put forward these criticisms. First, the cost of reprocessing versus once-through cycle and second, the risk of proliferation induced by U-Pu partitioning process. These arguments were also invoked in international debates, and they have also been pleaded by the anti-nukes during the National Debate on HLLLW, at the end of 2005, preceding the vote of a new law in 2006 by the French parliament. Fortunately they have not convinced public opinion in France nor political decision-makers. A majority of people with no regard to technical background understand that recycling and saving the natural resources are sustainable principles. And, from a technical point of view, the 6% over cost does not seem significant considering the economics of nuclear power. Lastly, the risk proliferation is more related to the front-end technologies than to the back-end ones. So, the 2006 French Law 'for a sustainable radioactive waste management' has reinforced the closed-cycle strategy and has paved the way for a long-term development of nuclear energy in the 21. century and beyond, towards the third and fourth generations of nuclear systems. It has defined an R and D programme including the continuation of partitioning-transmutation of minor actinides and their recycling in 4. generation fast reactors. In parallel, the French president has committed the French Atomic Energy Commission to implement a 4. generation prototype reactor by 2020, with international cooperation, to guarantee the permanence of technology progress. In this regard, the waste management strategy can't be built without taking into account the perspectives of development of nuclear energy. These perspectives must include the best available technologies and, in the other hand, an adaptation to the political evolutions of societies. (authors)« less
Authors:
 [1]
  1. CEA Saclay, French Atomic Energy Commission, Nuclear Energy Div., 91 - Gif-sur-Yvette (France)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
21294768
Report Number(s):
INIS-US--09-WM-07445
TRN: US10V0302040958
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: WM'07: 2007 Waste Management Symposium - Global Accomplishments in Environmental and Radioactive Waste Management: Education and Opportunity for the Next Generation of Waste Management Professionals, Tucson, AZ (United States), 25 Feb - 1 Mar 2007; Other Information: Country of input: France
Research Org:
WM Symposia, 1628 E. Southern Avenue, Suite 9 - 332, Tempe, AZ 85282 (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; ACTINIDES; COST; ENERGY POLICY; FAST REACTORS; FISSILE MATERIALS; FRANCE; FUEL CYCLE; INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION; NUCLEAR POWER; PROLIFERATION; PUBLIC OPINION; RADIOACTIVE WASTE MANAGEMENT; RADIOACTIVE WASTES; RECYCLING; REPROCESSING; SPENT FUELS; SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT; TRANSMUTATION