The French radioactive heritage

The French radioactive heritage. Converting nuclear residues into fissile capital since the 1950s

7th session of CEFRES in-house seminar 2022-2023.
Through the presentation of works in progress, CEFRES’s Seminar aims at raising and discussing issues about methods, approaches or concepts, in a multidisciplinary spirit, allowing everyone to confront her or his own perspectives with the research presented.

Location: CEFRES Library and online
: Tuesday 11th of April, 16:30
: English
: cefres[@]

Ange Pottin (CEFRES / UK)
Discussant: Chloé Mondémé  (CNRS / CEFRES )


Since the 1950s, many actors in the French nuclear industry have been announcing the following: the heavy radioactive legacy left by civilian and military nuclear facilities is not a nuisance, but a boon. The irradiated nuclear fuel, which comes out of the reactor hot, toxic and critical, and which was first used for the bomb, contains valuable energy materials for today’s market and for the virtuous society of abundance to come; it must therefore be “reprocessed”, “bred”, “multi-recycled”. The “closed fuel cycle”, a risky strategy that is now losing credibility, allows for a vertiginous paradox: in order to optimally manage radioactive residues, they must be mass-produced. Through the discourses of nuclear physicists, economists and French representatives in international arenas, I will analyze the implementation of this policy in the 1950s and 1980s with the help of tools borrowed from Science and Technology Studies and from Marx’s and Simondon’s philosophies of technology.

See the complete program of the seminar here.