Repair work completed on waste disposal site at La Hague

The French Nuclear Waste Management Agency ANDRA announced on 11 December 2009 the completion of repair work on the cover of the low- and intermediate-level waste disposal site CSM (Centre de Stockage de la Manche) adjacent to AREVA's spent fuel reprocessing plant at La Hague. The site had been operated between 1969 and 1994.

Less than five years after closure of the site and the finishing of a multi-layer cover, gravel, sand and bitumen cover started sinking in on large surface of about 600 m2. The site, which holds some 527,000 m3 of waste containing an estimated 20,000 tons of lead - the largest lead "mine" in France - one ton of mercury, 200 tons of uranium and about 100 kg of plutonium was originally meant to be "banalized", declared green field, open for any use after a period of 300 years. This timeline has been abandoned in favor of an indefinite monitoring period. In a damning report, released in October 2009, the independent radioactivity monitoring group ACRO provides a stunning account of the CSM's history (in French only).

Just before final closure of the site and just prior to the implementation of much lower plutonium limits for waste delivered to the future disposal site CSA (Centre de Stockage de l'Aube, French nuclear operators, and the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in particular, have stuffed the CSM with plutonium contaminated waste. "In the five month period from January to May 1994, the CSM has received more plutonium-239 in perishable drums without over-pack than the CSA is authorized to collect in its entire [operational] existence!" ACRO considers that this "insider offense extremely shocking because it was the same organization [the CEA] that has elaborated the knowledge base implying the review of procedures" and thus the limits for specific plutonium content.