France, like any other nuclear country, has had problems with nuclear waste storage. Nuclear waste takes around 240,000 years to biodegrade naturally and if stored/disposed improperly can cause harmful radiation to leak into the land, water, and air. In France, where nuclear energy is somewhat more popular amongst its people, nuclear storage is not. One way France has chosen to fix this problem is to ship its waste to Russia where some of it is reused and some is stored in questionable facilities. The transport is often extremely dangerous and, if something were to go wrong, could result in dangerous radiation among populated European cities.
While France has not had major health concern issues regarding their nuclear waste storage, they still need room to store the waste where it will not pose a threat to people. At about 1000 sites around the country, France holds nuclear waste of varying levels of classifications (from low-level to high -level radioactivity). France is currently pursuing a long-term geological repository for mid-high level radioactive waste. If approved, this facility could be up and running in 2025. The facility would be located 1,600 ft. below the ground, near the town of Bure, encapsulated in 150 million year old clay rock. Traditionally, France has kept most of its nuclear waste at storage facilities and exported the rest to Russia for it to undergo “enrichment” and be turned back into fuel. However, this enrichment process only returns about 10% of the waste to fuel. France has been hounded by environmental groups who say that the nuclear waste is stored at contaminated sites and under inadequate conditions. It takes a long time for radioactive materials to breakdown, so it is likely that France will always face the issue of safely and properly storing nuclear waste.
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