France produces nuclear with about 80% of its electricity, employing 58 reactors spread over 19 stations. And 'the nation in percentage using more nuclear power in the world, compared to other forms of energy.
This means that the French companies operating in the field of civilian nuclear energy, Areva and EDF-Electricité de France the main, are among the world's leading companies in the industry, real multinational atom. Manage all phases of the production process, from the construction of nuclear power plants to their operation (EDF), and sourcing and uranium to the final spent fuel reprocessing (AREVA), often in synergy with common projects such as building of nuclear power plants of new generation, the so-called central EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) in France at Flamanville and Finland. Areva operates instead at La Hague in Normandy, the largest center of reprocessing of nuclear fuel in the world and collects fissile material used to regenerate even from various foreign countries.
This large use of nuclear energy in the country also involves the production of a huge volume of radioactive waste, according to the latest data available, was 1,153,000 cubic meters in 2007 and forecasts will surpass 2 million in 2030. Among these, those with medium and high intensity are only a small part, about 5% of the total volume, but account for 99% of the total radioactivity. Most of the remaining volume is instead made up of materials with low hazard index, which may be debris and parts from decommissioned reactors or technical equipment and clothing used by technicians in power, which should be added to the industrial and radioactive waste hospital.
A deal with the storage of nuclear waste is the government agency Andra (Agence Nationale pour la gestion des déchets radioactifs) which manages the three main domestic deposits and that is commissioned to design and deploy a new storage facility deep, the place where will be accumulated precisely those most radioactive waste and dangerous now scattered in various places, safe for centuries to come. Will be built underground, in the Champagne-Ardennes region, in the east, an area famous for its wines which scientists also presents geological features suitable for such a deposit, because of thick clay layers that are believed to be one of the best coral for containment of radioactivity.
Today, 500 meters below ground, scientists are studying in a special laboratory technologies and materials that will allow to realize the project within a few years. By law, in fact, by 2017 you will have to start digging the deposit itself, which will then be operational in 2025.