La Hague

Orano Group is the world leader in the recycling of used nuclear fuel from reactors worldwide. Orano la Hague offers services for recycling radioactive materials for reuse in new nuclear fuel.

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Orano la Hague: the world leader in recycling nuclear materials

• Nearly 55 years of experience in the industry
• 4,000 Orano employees and 1,000 service providers
• Site: 740 acres
• 1,213 tons of used fuel (2019)

A leading provider offering unique expertise

The leading site of its kind
As the Orano Group's headquarters for recycling activities, the la Hague site offers its French and foreign customers solutions for re-using the 96% of recoverable materials contained in their used nuclear fuel and safely conditioning the 4% final waste.

The site's first stage of recycling consists of separating, recovering and conditioning the materials for use in new fuel. These reusable materials are then shipped to other Orano sites for producing new fuels or stored as strategic reserves.

© Orano - Cyril Crespeau
© Orano - Cyril Crespeau
© Orano - Cyril Crespeau
Strong international presence
While France, with its 58 reactors, is Orano la Hague's main customer, the facility also works with many countries, including Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy.
Over 36,000 tons of fuel reprocessed since 1976.
Automated and remotely-controlled operations
When the fuel arrives on site, it is unloaded and removed from its packaging using automated equipment in rooms with nearly four-foot thick concrete walls as a protective barrier against radioactivity.

In-pool storage
The used fuel is then placed in a large storage pool for an average of five years before it is treated further. During that time, the fuel’s temperature and radioactivity decreases to required levels for reprocessing.
Used nuclear fuel interim storage pool at the reprocessing plant of la Hague, France. © Orano - Cyril Crespeau
After the time in the pool, the metallic assemblies containing the used fuel are sheared into small pieces before being immersed in a nitric acid solution, which dissolves the nuclear material. The dissolved material then goes through a chemical process to separate the recyclable materials from the 4 % non-reusable waste of fission products.  

The fission products are heated and mixed with molten glass, and then poured into stainless steel containers for safe and stable storage for several tens of thousands of years. The sheared metallic waste (metal fuel ends, hulls, etc.) is compacted with a 2,500-ton press and placed in containers for storage.

Major projects to secure the site's long-term future

The NCPF "New Fission Products Concentration Unit" project
The NCPF project will replace the existing evaporators with new equipment in two extraction processes for separating uranium, plutonium and fission products.
is the amount in billions of euros dedicated to investment over 8 years in the Recycling business.
New storage capacity
Another major project is extending the facility to increase storage capacity for waste containers: a new vitrified waste storage cell was commissioned in January 2018 and the earthworks for the compacted waste storage extension will begin in 2020. 
employees and more than 300 service providers were mobilised for the site's major investment projects in 2019.

Safety, an absolute priority

Continuous high surveillance
Monitored and secured round-the-clock, the site is protected by armed intervention teams, permanent radar coverage, and a nearly 2-mile radius fly-over ban for aircraft below 6,560 feet.

Significant human and material intervention capacities
The “Site and Material Protection” service relies on intervention teams trained in the site's various risks: fire, chemical or radioactive, etc. To optimise responses to a crisis situation, response staff regularly participate in simulations and drills.
Over 500 people are dedicated to safety and security at the Orano site in la Hague.
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