Contract for Marcoule waste recovery and packaging

26 October 2017

A contract to recover and encapsulate low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste at the Marcoule nuclear research site has been awarded to Areva Projets SAS and the Wood Group by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). The contract covers some 50 tonnes of waste resulting from the treatment of fuels used in former plutonium-producing reactors there.

The waste to be recovered and packaged consists of magnesium cladding material resulting from treatment operations on the natural uranium-graphite gas fuels used in the former G1, G2 and G3 reactors at the Marcoule site. This waste has been stored in a silo for more than 50 years.

Under the contract with the CEA, Wood will design a remotely-operated robotic arm to remove the waste elements from the silo and also design a manufacturing unit to encapsulate them. Once treated, the waste package can then be made ready for long-term storage in a geological disposal facility. The work is expected to take five years.

The scope of the contract covers project management, safety case, detailed design, commissioning and the first six months of operations.

Wood CEO Robin Watson said, "This contract advances our strategy to grow our business in France by applying our ingenuity and expertise to solve nuclear problems for a growing range of customers." He added, "We look forward to working with Areva Projets in the safe and successful execution of this contract."

Eric Chassard, chairman of Areva Projets - the engineering subsidiary of New Areva - said: "Areva Projets is demonstrating its ability to act as a full-scope prime contractor for waste recovery and packaging operations for external customers. This contract also demonstrates our ability to devise an innovative partnership strategy to serve the customers, in this case by teaming up with Wood."

The Marcoule site was selected in the 1950s for the first industrial-scale reactors for producing plutonium. The technological choices were based on the use of natural uranium as the fuel and graphite as the moderator. The 46 MWt G1 reactor was commissioned in 1956 and operated until 1968. The 250 MWt G2 and G3 reactors operated from 1958 to 1980 and from 1959 to 1984, respectively. The three reactors are currently at various stages of decontamination and dismantling.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News