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EDF and Veolia entered a partnership agreement to co-develop remote control solutions for dismantling gas-cooled reactors (natural uranium graphite gas or UNGG in French) and for vitrifying radioactive waste, in France and worldwide.

EDF is currently decommissioning 6 gas-cooled reactors reactors at Bugey (Ain department in France), Chinon (Indre-et-Loire department) and Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux (Loir-et-Cher).

Key milestones have already been secured on all these complex projects, and EDF confirms its objective to dismantle these nuclear facilities in the shortest timeframe possible.

Veolia will provide EDF with its experience in remote handling technologies (robotics) with a view to designing and delivering innovative solutions to access the cores of gas-cooled reactors and to cut up and extract components under optimum safety and security conditions.

In parallel, EDF and VEOLIA will work to develop an industrial solution for the vitrification of low- and intermediate- level waste.

Veolia explained that the technology identified for use is ideally suited for radioactive waste, which it immobilises in a glass matrix, thus delivering a stable and durable waste form that is easy to transport and store.

The objective for the two companies is the industrial implementation and joint commercial operation of these robotics and vitrification technologies.

Jean-Bernard Lévy, chairman & CEO of EDF, stated: “We are proud to have signed this agreement with VEOLIA, which underscores EDF’s determination to become a key player in decommissioning and radioactive waste management.

“This partnership is also tangible evidence of EDF and VEOLIA’s desire to pool their know-how in the interest of developing successful industrial sectors.”

Antoine Frérot, chairman & CEO of VEOLIA, announced: “I am delighted with this partnership between EDF and VEOLIA, an alliance between two key players, globally recognised, with a very high level of expertise in their respective fields.

“Our collaboration, which is expected to grow over time, demonstrates the extent of each company’s vision and ambition with regard to processing the most environmentally sensitive waste and preserving the environment.”