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Orano finalizes dismantling of the experimental reactor Ulysse at Saclay

After five years of works, the project to completely dismantle the experimental nuclear reactor Ulysse has been closed out successfully and on schedule by Orano teams in conjunction with the CEA. This success further strengthens the group's expertise in the decommissioning of nuclear fuel cycle facilities as well as power and research reactors. 

Operated by CEA teams at Saclay from 1961 to 2007, the low-power reactor Ulysse was mainly operated for teaching and continuing education purposes by INSTN (the French National Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology). 

The project mobilized teams from Orano DS, the entity of the group specializing in dismantling, radioactive waste management and services to nuclear operators. Completion of dismantling was in line with the schedule set in 2014 by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) and now paves the way for the administrative decommissioning of the facility. 

The scope of the works covered the entire structure, from the civil engineering and connected systems through to the reactor core. The deconstruction generated 512 metric tons of conventional waste and 226 metric tons of very low-level waste (VLLW), to be shipped to approved storage facilities. 

Alain Vandercruyssen, Senior Executive Vice President in charge of Orano’s Dismantling and Services activities, declared: "The timely completion of this project underscores both the determination of the teams on the ground to meet the commitments undertaken and the good coordination with CEA. Congratulations to all those who contributed to this achievement, which extends our group's experience in dismantling.” 

Project History 

  • 2007: shutdown of the reactor Ulysse.
  • 2014: ASN decree authorizing the start of dismantling; STMI (now Orano DS) selected by the CEA to carry out complete dismantling of the reactor.
  • 2014 – 2016: execution of conventional dismantling works (air and water networks, deconstruction of the civil engineering around the reactor core, etc.).
  • 2016 – 2019: conduct of the nuclear dismantling works, including the cutting of equipment and the concrete block shielding assembly in the reactor core.
  • 2019 – 2020: final phase of clean-up and inspection to verify the radiological cleanliness of the premises.

Ulysse Reactor Before Dismantling

Ulysse reactor beofre Dismantling (c) Orano

Ulysse Reactor After Dismantling

Ulysse reactor after dismantling (c) Orano


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