do not dig for several thousand years

A gallery of the Bure laboratory, in the Meuse, which studies the burial, in France, of the most radioactive waste. Lucas Barioulet/PHOTOPQR/LE PARISIEN/MAXPPP

WHEN RESEARCH TAKES ITS TIME (2/5) – For forty years, ways have been studied to bequeath the memory of the disposal sites to future generations.

Dazzling, science? Not always. If it can be slow, laborious and repetitive, it is often at this price that it provides answers. Some experiences can even last for decades. Stories of some of these challenges to time.

How to pass on to future generations the memory of radioactive waste storage sites, intended to keep them underground for millennia? A headache for all projects of this type in the world.

In France, Cigeo, the site intended to receive the most radioactive waste mainly from EDF nuclear power plants, won its declaration of public utility on July 8. It is a prerequisite before its construction to bury the waste there 500 meters deep, in a layer of geological clay straddling the Meuse and Haute-Marne. For France, the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) recommends a duration of five hundred years in order to protect the environment and populations. “It will be a duration…

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