5. Bure Underground Research Laboratory (ANDRA)

Vue aérienne du LMHM Puits d'accès au laboratoire de Bure - Philippe Demaill Galerie de liaison du LMHM avec ouverture sur une galerie de secours - Véronique Paul Galerie de liaison du LMHM - Philippe Demail_2 Galerie d'expérimentation du LMHM - Eric Sutre Galerie Expérimentation au LMHM_2 - Véronique Paul Expérimentation au LMHM - Véronique Paul Bâtiments des puits du LHMH - Véronique Paul


Located at some 300 km from Paris, in the Meuse and Haute Marne districts, a research center operated by ANDRA hosts the R&D activities in order to confirm the feasibility of a Deep Geological Repository (DGR) for High-Level Waste (HLW) in a claystone formation. The center encompasses three research and development facilities: the Underground Research Laboratory (URL), the Technological Exhibition Facility and the Perennial Observatory of the Environment (POE).

Designed and constructed under ANDRA’s strict supervision following its own specifications, the URL has been the location of numerous scientific and technological experiments since 2000. It “provides an access to the geological environment under realistic repository conditions” to achieve the following objectives:

  • Evaluate the geological environment of the future DGR
  • Collect data from the clay formation in order to assess the performances of the future DGR
  • Test and demonstrate the constructability of the future DGR

ANDRA’s URL is still expanding at 490 m below the surface in the middle of the Callovo-Oxfordian clay. It consists of a network of 1 km-long interconnected galleries linked to the surface by 2 vertical shafts. From the year 2000 onwards, around 400 boreholes were drilled and about 30km of core samples were collected. The URL is equipped with more than 3,100 sensors and over 1,000,000 measurements are transmitted every day to the scientific offices on the surface.

The URL is one of the key components of the DGR project also because it serves to attract the interest of the international scientific community, to gain credibility vis-a-vis our national stakeholders and to enhance the confidence of the public in general and local population in particular.

Right next to the URL, Andra has constructed a “showroom” facility to present the technologies that might be used in the future geological disposal. Among other equipment and mechanisms, the Technological Exhibition Facility presents to the public disposal packages for ILW-LL and HLW, the product of more than 10 years of research and development. Prototypes seen in action, as well as static exhibits of the tested machines, and equipment used to perform various tests are used to showcase and explain particular aspects of the operational challenges that Andra is progressively solving.

The French DGR project for HLW, called Cigéo, is one of the most advanced projects of its kind. An application for a construction license with regard to Cigéo will be submitted in 2017, with the commissioning expected in 2025, starting with a pilot phase.

Visit program

The visit of the Bure underground laboratory in the Meuse/Haute-Marne district will be a one day trip, leaving from and coming back to Paris by bus.

  • 06:30: Transfer by bus from Paris to the ANDRA Bure site
  • 10:00: Opening statement in the Technological Exhibition facility
  • 11:00: Discovery of the prototypes exhibited in “showroom” facility
  • 12:00: Lunch
  • 14:00: Training on safety rules and visit of the 500 meters deep Laboratory’s underground facilities
  • 18:00: Transfer back to Paris
  • 21:30: End of visit