Enfouir des déchets nucléaires dans un monde conflictuel. Une histoire de la démonstration de sûreté de projets de stockage géologique, en France (1982-2013)

Abstract : It takes up to hundreds of thousands of years for the radioactivity contained in some nuclear waste to decrease under acceptable threshold. How engineers and scientists from the French agency for nuclear waste management (Andra) prove the safety of an underground disposal on such a temporality? Based on the study of the Andra's archives and on internal observation, this thesis intends to address and answer the above question.This thesis is first and foremost a social history of scientific practices used to study the evolution of storage (geology, materials science, numerical simulation...) between the 1980’s and 2013. It's also a study of the role of research in governing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, after the French law of 1991 provided nuclear waste management with legal framework. Burying nuclear waste is the only option to manage them. However, the distinction between the research undertaken in Bure underground laboratory and their purpose, has allowed Andra's siting. Engineers and scientists from this agency are faced with the epistemic inability to understand exhaustively the evolution of storage during hundreds of thousands years. The progress of the project and researches work jointly and the pursuit of science constantly disrupts the understanding of the storage evolution. When, in the 1990s, the public demonstration of storage safety became a condition of its acceptance, the Andra progressively gave up the idea that a formal demonstration, like a mathematical one, could be produced. Since the 2000s, the storage safety has been based on a “cluster of arguments” which ensures a degree of control over the deposit evolution. Finally, this thesis shows how the French nuclear waste management has been promoted as a prime example of technical democracy.
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Leny Patinaux. Enfouir des déchets nucléaires dans un monde conflictuel. Une histoire de la démonstration de sûreté de projets de stockage géologique, en France (1982-2013). Histoire, Philosophie et Sociologie des sciences. EHESS, 2017. Français. ⟨tel-01974327⟩

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