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The French government wants to bury their nuclear waste in argillite, on top of a geothermal resource site. On Tuesday, 26 January, 2016, a worker was killed and one injured at the site due to collapse of an underground tunnel gallery.

An argillite /ˈɑrdʒɨlaɪt/ is a fine-grained sedimentary rock composed predominantly of indurated clay particles. Argillaceous rocks are basically lithified muds and oozes. They contain variable amounts of silt-sized particlehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argillite

A child knows that clay becomes soft and unstable when wet. And, that it shrinks and cracks when dry and expands when wet. Residents near the proposed French nuclear waste facility in Bure France have demonstrated that within 16 minutes the “argillite” clay proposed for high level nuclear storage dissolves into gravel clumps. This is because it is hard materials held together by soft materials.
Bure argillite mudstone dryBure Argillite Mudstone after 16 min is gravel
Images from video link at http://www.villesurterre.eu

Experimental deformation of Bure argillites was performed by indenter techniques in order to investigate the kinetics of pressure solution processes… unstable microfracturing around the indenter that may be linked to the swelling that always occurs before the indenting and that weakens the strength of the rocks (especially when using water). Argillite deformation is likely to be linked to the deformation of clay minerals acting as potential weak zones… This work just underlines the difficulty of studying this mechanism in weak rocks where several mechanism of deformation may competes and the faster strain rate hide the slower one at human time scale, whereas the slower one may be predominant on long-term duration.” Excerpted from Abstract of “Indenter studies of the swelling, creep and pressure solution of Bure argillite” J.P GratierL JenattonD TisserandR Guiguet Applied Clay Science August 2004, Vol.26(1):459–472, doi:10.1016/j.clay.2003.12.035 “Clays in Natural and Engineered Barriers for Radioactive Waste Confinement

In a 26 Jan 2016 Press Release BureStop states that a fatal rock slide occurred in the underground galleries of the Bure Laboratory where Andra is doing research to bury high level nuclear waste at a depth of 500 meters. One person died and another was injured. Their thoughts are with the victims and those close to them (as should everyone’s thoughts be).

While awaiting more precise information on the circumstances and consequences of the accident they raise points such as:

If l’Andra can’t assure the security of its construction site, how can they claim to make secure for over 100 years the project which will include more than 300 km of galleries and 5 km of descent?

If the nuclear waste site (Cigeo) is constructed, how could it avoid similar accidents, especially if, under the pressure of EDF, a low cost version is retained?

While l’Andra wants to present the Bure underground as an unshakeable strongbox (safe), this collapse clearly raises the question of the real stability of underground clay in which Cigeo was bored. If underground fractures, notably linked to the boring of the galleries, appears in the laboratory, what will happen when the underground storage centre is constructed and has an accident once it is full of radioactive waste? This collapse confirms that the reversibility of the [nuclear waste] burial is impossible to guarantee.

While a bill has been proposed (“une proposition de loi a été déposée“) on the reversibility and the launch of the “pilot phase”, it is urgent to stop the nuclear waste burial project. This incident only confirms the extreme risks of this project, as opponents have warned for over 20 years.

Expensive, dangerous and insane, Cigéo / BURE project must be abandoned immediately, and France must urgently make every effort to stop its production radioactive waste. (The preceding is based on our unofficial (and quick) translation. Read the original press release in French here: http://burestop.free.fr/spip/spip.php?article692 )

Google Streetview of Bure, France (Images saved one year ago, Jan. 2015 so may not be the most recent.)
Streetview Bure France
Note anti-nuclear house and how much the lab and proposed nuclear waste dump has done for Bure’s economy, as illustrated in the housing.

Cows near Bure-l’Andra. The French government picking on a poor rural area with apparently little voting or economic clout.
cows near Bure

Read More Here

One dead in tunnel collapse at future French nuclear waste site
STRASBOURG, FRANCE, Tue Jan 26, 2016 10:46am EST http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-nuclear-idUSKCN0V41NV

France Bure: Rock slide kills one at nuclear waste site“, 27 Jan 2016 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35415456

http://www.reporterre.net/Pour-imposer-le-site-de-dechets-nucleaires-Cigeo-l-Andra-aurait-dissimule-une

http://www.sudouest.fr/2016/01/26/dechets-nucleaires-eboulement-sur-le-site-de-bure-un-mort-et-un-blesse-grave-2254563-706.php

Eboulement mortel de Bure : “Tout le monde sait que l’argile est une roche extrêmement fragile” (géologue) par Rédaction de France Info mardi 26 janvier 2016 17:38. http://www.franceinfo.fr/fil-info/article/eboulement-mortel-de-bure-tout-le-monde-sait-que-l-argile-est-une-roche-extremement-fragile-geologue-761505

http://www.villesurterre.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=444
http://www.villesurterre.eu/images/stories/BURE_Argilite_130927_Jean-Arsene_JOSSEN_Argilites_et_eau3.pdf

On the Geothermal potential
geothermal potential
This was part of a video of an excellent and lively presentation by Dr. Antoine Godinot, which along with written information may be found here: http://www.sortirdunucleaire.org/Un-potentiel-geothermique-cache