Commissioned in 1962, the nuclear fuel fabrication plant of the Commissariat Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) in Cadarache was the first of its kind in France. During its 41 years of operation, it first produced fuel for the fast neutron reactor, then MOX fuel for light water reactors.
In 2009, the plant's decommissioning and remediation operations began at two nuclear facilities: the Plutonium Technology Workshops (ATPu) and the Chemical Purification Laboratory (LPC). At the peak of the project, up to 300 employees from Decommissioning and Services and its partners worked simultaneously. After eight years of work, this first decommissioning of a MOX plant ended in early 2017 with benchmark success.
The deconstruction of the MOX manufacturing plant at the CEA site in Cadarache required the development of specific and innovative solutions. New working methods and technologies were experimented with for this project. In order to optimise the project duration to hte greatest extent possible, Orano treated each site as a production unit in its own right. Each stage of the project was sequenced and streamlined. These innovative methods of industrialising construction sites will be reuseable in the future in the framework of decommissioning projects of the same type.
Five major steps were taken to dismantle the plant: