Cadarache Special - Plutonium Investigation n°20

The Cadarache Nuclear Studies Center (CEN)

The Cadarache nuclear research center (CEN - Centre d'Etudes Nucléaires) was created in 1959 by the CEA (Commissariat à l'énergie atomique), at the confluence of the Verdon and Durance rivers, on a 1,625 hectare site in the Bouches-du-Rhône region. It is the largest CEA complex outside the Paris region, with 450 buildings and 5,000 employees.

The main focus of the research carried out at the Center, using the on-site experimental reactors (Cabri, Scarabée, Phébus, etc.), is the industrial application of research and development work on uranium- and plutonium-based fuels. Several departments cover a wide range of activities: Reactor Studies (DER), Fuel Studies (DEC), Safety Research (DRS), Controlled Fusion Research (DRFC) and Temporary and Permanent Storage of Waste (DESD).

Other bodies add to the range of research: Center for Study of Solar Energy, Department of Plant Eco-Physiology and Microbiology, Industrial Recycling, etc. The DER and DEC departments represent around 50 per cent of the activity, the DRS and DRFC 20 per cent each, and waste treatment 9 per cent.

The CEA's Cadarache center also houses some of its subsidiaries. For example, Technicatome makes prototype reactors for naval nuclear propulsion systems (submarines and aircraft carriers). COGEMA is engaged in activities relating to the nuclear fuel cycle in the Cadarache production complex (CFCa - Complexe de Fabrication de Combustible au Plutonium). The Société des Techniques en Milieu Ionisant (STMI), Intercontrôle and Compagnie Internationale de Services en Informatique (CISI) companies are also present.

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