In 1991, France established its Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (ANDRA) for the purposes of developing a strategy and performing research on managing France’s high-level and intermediate-level long-lived radioactive waste. ANDRA is a government-owned public service agency. In 2006, the French Parliament adopted two laws significant to radioactive waste management. One law created a Nuclear Safety Authority, an independent administrative authority that supervised nuclear safety and radiation protection, and informed the public on these subjects. The law also more firmly established local information committees, which are groups of citizens who monitor important nuclear facilities in their communities. The second law specified that reversible disposal in deep geological formations is the preferred solution for management of high-level radioactive waste, and that the geological formation selected for the repository must have been studied through an underground laboratory.
Meuse and Haute-Marne counties agreed to host an underground research laboratory for a deep geological repository. The results of studies to date will be presented during public debates scheduled for 2013, followed by submission of a license application. The license application will be submitted to territorial communities for comment, and will be subject to a public inquiry. Assuming the process proceeds smoothly, authorization to construct the repository is anticipated in 2017, and start of repository operations is anticipated around 2025.