Meuse/Haute Marne Underground Research Laboratory

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Entrance sign

The Meuse/Haute Marne Underground Research Laboratory is a laboratory located 500 metres underground in Bure in the Meuse département. It allows study of the geological formation in order to evaluate its capacity for deep geological repository of high level and long lived medium level radioactive waste. It is managed by Agence nationale pour la gestion des déchets radioactifs (Andra).

Since radioactive waste needs to be safely stored for extreme lengths of time, the geology of the area is of utmost importance. This site consists of mudstone 500 metres underground in the Paris Basin.

History[edit]

The first practical geological studies on locations for deep geological repository in France date back to the 1960s. In the 1980s Andra, at that time a branch of the CEA, was given the task of investigating possible locations for an underground research laboratory.

Site selection[edit]

Two geological formations were initially considered in the 1990s: clay and granite. The 1991 law thus dictated that research would be done in several possible sites.

In 1994, work by Andra investigated a wide range of locations in 4 separate départements, and further narrowed down the choice to 3 locations.

Layout[edit]

All above and below ground facilities at the site are organized around two wells.

Surface installations[edit]

There are headframes above each well for transporting equipment and people in and out. Then there is a host of other surface buildings and factories for research, which occupy a total of 170,000 square metres. The reception building has a Green roof.

Tunnels[edit]

As of 2007, a 40 metre long tunnel had been completed at the 445 m underground level, while almost 500 m of tunnels have been excavated at the 490 m underground level. Further extensions were built between 2007 and 2009 and more are scheduled, to be completed by 2015.

Mining Techniques

Coordinates: 48°29′04″N 5°21′23″E / 48.48444°N 5.35639°E / 48.48444; 5.35639