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In Bure, opponents prepare for the arrival of bulldozers

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Between Bure (Meuse) and Cirfontaines-en-Ornois (Haute-Marne), report

The coming years promise to be hot in southern Meuse. And global warming will not be the only culprit. Because around the Cigéo radioactive waste landfill project, designed by the National Agency for the Management of Radioactive Waste (Andra), nerves are strained. The reason ? The publication on July 8, 2022 of decrees granting public utility (DUP) and national interest » (ISO) [1] to the project.

behind this administrative step » hides a multitude of new levers for Andra, allowing it to dislodge farmers, opponents and activists [2]. After more than 20 years support and development of the territory »Andra’s laboratory finally shows a completely different face.

The Lejuc wood could soon be cleared to accommodate the pit area. © Quentin Zinzius / Reporterre

At the House of Resistance (BZL), a historic site of protest against the project, news spread quickly. We knew that the procedure was going to move forward, and we anticipated it. A team and legal remedies had been prepared for a long time to challenge these decrees. »assures Paulo [*], a regular at the place. But concerns remain. In particular around Lejuc wood, where the previous conflicts adjoining Cigéo took place, before Andra actually took possession of it in 2021.

Located above the future waste storage area, it must be partly cleared to serve as a work support area, called well area ». Since the occupations, the wood has never really left our minds, and we closely monitor what happens there. »assures Paula [*]who also lives BZL.

© Gaëlle Sutton / Reporterre

At the end of July, a team of experts would have carried out an environmental impact study within it ; a necessary step before being able to start clearing work. But for now, the forest still sits peacefully on the plain. When the bulldozers come, we’ll be ready »we promise in the House.

And Lejuc wood is not the only one threatened by the progress of the Andra project. In total, nearly 3,500 ha of land are covered by theISO — a major part of which is already in the hands of Andra, enabling the agency to make the arrangements there necessary for the installation of the repository. But it still lacks several key areas [3].

The lands of Jean-Pierre Simon, where the Sowers work, are in direct proximity to the future railway line, which can now be identified by a strip of trees. © Quentin Zinzius / Reporterre

According to the latest news, the land located at the level of the intersite link, the transformer, and the Luméville station, is still not under Andra’s control. », explains Jean-Pierre Simon, farmer from Haut-Marne and historical opponent of the Cigéo project. Areas crucial to the arrival of nuclear waste, which it will now be able to appropriate, with or without the agreement of its occupants. Well almost. We have undertaken major works to barricade the station », we are told at the Maison de Résistance. During July, between 200 and 300 people took part in the barricade week »in order to transform the place into a real bastion of resistance.

This is our place of life, we will defend it until the end »

L’ISO allows Andra to evict the last inhabitants of land it covets before 2037says Paulo, but we won’t let it go. » However, opponents have time to see it coming. The deportation procedure will be long, they have administrative constraints that they cannot avoid »reassure the opponents. Anyway it’s our place of life, we will defend it until the end »adds Paula.

Pending the arrival of Andra, the old station of Luméville is barricaded. © Quentin Zinzius / Reporterre

On the side of the farmers, the publication of the decrees did not help matters. For Jean-Pierre Simon, part of whose land surrounds the railway line to transport radioactive waste to the future storage center, the future is still uncertain. Andra has already used my land, but the proximity to the line worries me: there are only a few meters between my field and the future track. »he explains.

Part of this field is also cultivated in market gardening by the Semeuses collective, which also opposes Cigéo. This situation scares meadmits Lisa [*]member of the collective. It is more difficult to project oneself, to imagine the future of our lands and our territory, when we know that a train loaded with radioactive waste may show up, a few meters away. »

In addition, to allow access to agricultural land, Andra will have to build bridges and other level crossings ; strategic points to monitor and defend in the context of transporting radioactive waste. Such proximity does not guarantee our safety, nor that of the train. ! » outbids Jean-Pierre Simon.

At the former Luméville station, the message is clear: although it appears on the project plans, its inhabitants will not abandon it to Andra. © Quentin Zinzius / Reporterre

But Andra did not wait for the start of this work to get the bulldozer out. In Mandres-en-Barrois, a large pile of rubble, close to the town hall, recalls the location of an old house. Unoccupied, it was redeemed and recently destroyed by Andra », confirms a source within the village. The space could be transformed into a playground for children. A little hypocritical, when you want to empty the territory of its inhabitants »quips an opponent, learning the news.

And it’s not the only one. Several houses were destroyed near Chassey-Beaupré, and are now in “land to build”. And in Guillaumé, a “private project” [4] razed three properties », testifies Jean-Pierre Simon, who closely follows the fate of land in the territory. However, these municipalities appear well outside the zone defined by theISO.

In Mandres-en-Barrois, and in other surrounding villages, several houses have already been razed. © Quentin Zinzius / Reporterre

Andra is opportunisticsays the farmer. Under cover of destroying “warts” [des maisons anciennes ou en mauvais état] it actually avoids the installation of new inhabitants, and potential opponents to the project. » A desire which is not surprising, the Environmental Authority having underlined in its report of January 13, 2021, the need to durably limit the exposed population » and not to develop the territory demographically ».

Andra now seems to be accelerating the maneuver. She had also tried to recover the Affranchie, a building bought by opponents of the project in 2018, before being dismissed by the courts in July 2021. What is ours, we will occupy and protect until the end », promises Paulo. Next meeting for the opponents: the Bure’lesques, which are held in Hévilliers, near Bure (Meuse), on August 5th, 6th and 7th.

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