3 – Secure the wastes

How the wastes treated ?

Wastes are a dangerous and important part of the nuclear cycle. The CEA has a special part of its site reserved to the management of wastes.

We started by Magenta : a building for fresh fissile metiers. Inside : the fuel needed for reactors (uranium, cesium, iode etc…). The storage building is under the ground to protect it from plane crash.

Nuclear wastes :

Before to be sent to the ANDRA (the national center of wastes processing) or to Laague (city of France), wastes are stored in sheds. Nearly 80% are radioactive.

What is a nuclear waste ?

It is any object which has been in contact or used in a nuclear installation (can be an hammer, a screw), potentially radioactive.

Why are we always talking about Uranium as a waste ?

The uranium correspond to 1% of power plant wastes. But is the 99% part of wastes the most radioactive.

How are wastes classed ?

Wastes are classified by its respective activity (measured in Becquerel).

  • Very low activity
  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
  • Very high

Wastes from very low to medium are sent to the ANDRA.

High and very high wastes are sent to Laague (Normandie), where they are cast in glass and inserted wells.

They are also classified by lifetime :

  • Very short
  • Short (until 30 years)
  • Long

Different forms of waste :

Wastes can be solid, on gas state or on liquid state.

Agate is the treatment station for liquid and gas. The activity of the gas and liquids are measured.
If the level is too high, gas and liquids are compressed to create a « radioactive mud » which will then be treated.

About the environment :

There’s a special service for protection against the chemical or nuclear risks.

His mission is the environmental protection and surveillance of the site. Three environmental stations are dispatched on and around the site.

Specialists take samples of air, water, animal tissues and vegetables to analyse them in radioactivity alpha, beta and gamma.
Thereby, they can determinate the environmental impact of Cadarache.

Actually, the center present an environmental impact of 0.001 mili sievert per year. (Very very very low).


The tobacco fix the polonium in the body : it’s the deadliest radioactive element.