Dismantling of French research reactor completed

23 June 2020

The dismantling of the Ulysse experimental reactor at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission's (CEA's) Saclay site near Paris has been completed. The low-power reactor, which was shut down in 2007, was mainly operated for teaching and continuing education purposes by the National Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology.

The Ulysse reactor pictured prior to its dismantlement (Image: Orano)

Ulysse was an Argonaut class reactor, a research reactor model developed by the Argonne National Laboratory in the USA. It was operated by CEA teams at Saclay from 1961 to 2007. STMI, a former subsidiary of EDF and CEA but now Orano DS, was awarded a contract in 2014 to decommission the reactor.

The scope of the works covered the entire structure, from the civil engineering and connected systems through to the reactor core. The deconstruction generated 512 tons of conventional waste and 226 tons of very low-level waste, to be shipped to approved storage facilities.

The interior of the building housing Ulysse following dismantling of the reactor (Image: Orano)

Conventional dismantling works - including air and water networks, as well as deconstruction of the civil engineering around the reactor core - were carried out between 2014 and 2016. Between 2016 and 2019, nuclear dismantling works were conducted, including the cutting of equipment and the concrete block shielding assembly in the reactor core. The final phase of clean-up and inspection to verify the radiological cleanliness of the premises took place in 2019-2020.

"Completion of dismantling was in line with the schedule set in 2014 by the French Nuclear Safety Authority and now paves the way for the administrative decommissioning of the facility," Orano noted.

"The timely completion of this project underscores both the determination of the teams on the ground to meet the commitments undertaken and the good coordination with CEA," said Alain Vandercruyssen, senior executive vice president in charge of Orano's dismantling and services activities. "Congratulations to all those who contributed to this achievement, which extends our group's experience in dismantling."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News