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Quiet no more, French village becomes center of anti-nuclear protest via On News Today

BURE, France (OnNewsToday) – The 82 residents of the French village of Bure lived a quiet life until the government began testing the feasibility of storing nuclear waste there. Now Bure is rocked by protests as a final decision on the project looms.

A nuclear warning symbol and the word “irradiated” are painted on road signs in the village of Bure, France, April 6, 2018. Picture taken April 6, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

For the past 20 years, French nuclear waste agency Andra has tested the stability of the clay of the northeastern village to see if it could hold radioactive waste for hundreds of thousands of years.

Andra is preparing a formal request for next year to build the 25 billion euro ($31 billion) facility to hold waste from the reactors of state-owned utility EDF.

French nuclear regulator ASN has already said the plan is sound and deep geological storage is the safest way to protect future generations from radioactive waste.

But a police van at the main square is testimony to rising tensions and demonstrations that have at times blocked the area where Andra wants to dig.

[…]

The city sign is seen at the entrance of the village in Bure, France, April 5, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Hundreds of demonstrators who built a camp nearby were kicked out by police in February but say they are there for the long run and will fight the project until the government changes its plans.

“We are heading straight for … a nuclear disaster, that’s why we’re against it,” said Jean-Marc Fleury, a local elected official with an environmentalist party.

[…]

For now, spent fuel from French nuclear reactors is stored in pools next to the reactors before it is shipped to state-owned nuclear fuel group Orano’s recycling plant in La Hague, western France.

But La Hague is not designed for long-term storage and France does not have a solution 40 years after investing heavily in nuclear energy. Other countries that use nuclear power face the same problem.

The Bure site is designed so that nuclear waste could be retrieved for the first 100 years if scientists find a better solution than burying it. Otherwise, the underground galleries will be permanently sealed with concrete.

Anti-nuclear activists say deep geological storage does not offer perfect guarantees against radiation leakage in ground water. They want the waste moved to underground facilities that are just a few meters deep, to monitor it better.

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