France’s state-controlled utility EDF says it plans to build a new central storage pool for nuclear waste but is yet to select a site.
Environmental site Reporterre said this week that EDF planned to build a central spent-fuel pool at its Belleville-sur-Loire nuclear power station (pictured), which is intended to handle up to 8,000 tonnes of spent fuel, the equivalent of around 90 reactor cores.
Spent fuel remains radioactive for millennia.
An EDF spokesman said nuclear regulator ASN and the environmental ministry in Paris had required the utility to send a proposal for a site by next year. A site would reportedly be selected around 2020.
He said the central pool would be built on the site of one of its 19 nuclear plants and that it would receive the used fuel from all of EDF’s 58 nuclear reactors.
Philippe Sasseigne, EDF’s nuclear chief, said in January that a central pool was being considered because the spent fuel pools at La Hague’s nuclear power station would be full by 2030.
Reporterre claimed Belleville had been selected because of its central location, railway connections and its space, as only two reactors were built in a compound with the capacity for four.
An ASN spokeswoman said no site had been chosen.
Spent fuel is usually left to cool in pools next to a nuclear reactor before being sent to a central pool or permanent store.
France has mulled a nuclear-waste dump 500 metres below ground in clay at Bure, eastern France, although no governmental approval has been given and activists oppose the plans.
La Hague in the meantime is France’s nuclear waste storage site in the absence of a permanent solution for deep geological storage.
EDF is using a London-based startup to trial its technology monitoring nuclear equipment and creating operational efficiencies at its plants.
Chirp. founded in 2011 at University College London, uses an audio barcode to encode data into a series of near-ultrasonic pitches and tones.
Last month, Chirp and EDF invested €110,000 worth of funding from Innovate UK in the data-over-sound solutions for nuclear power stations to transmit diagnostics data from ageing industrial equipment.
EDF wanted to take a reading from a gauge in a nuclear power station at a range of 50 metres over a 12-hour period.
Technological breakthroughs are unlikely, however, to ease opposition to any new nuclear storage dump.
Belleville-sur-Loire nuclear power station. Picture credit: Wikimedia