Veolia to Scrap Retired French SSBNs

September 11, 2018 (Google Translation) – After ships at the end of their life, Veolia is entrusted, in Cherbourg, with the deconstruction and valorization of 5 former nuclear submarines Launcher d’Engin (SNLE). Pascal Tissot, President of Veolia Déconstruction France, explains the stakes of this extraordinary contract.

After the SNLE Le Tonnant, the 4 submarines The Terrible, The Lightning, The Indomitable and The Unyielding will in turn be deconstructed. Recyclable materials from this transaction – mainly ferrous and non-ferrous metals – will be sorted and prepared for sale. 87% of these materials can be recycled. Each ship will be processed within 18 months.  Pascal Tissot , President of Veolia Déconstruction France, gives us the details of these operations that will be conducted in Cherbourg.

Veolia France : Can you give us a general overview of the contract?

Pascal Tissot : The DGA (Directorate General of Armament) has commissioned Naval Group of asbestos removal, deconstruction and recovery of waste 5 ex-SNLE series of the Redoutable: The Terrible, The Thunderer, The Lightning, The inflexible and the Indomitable. To help it achieve this market, Naval Group has selected 2 service providers to support it: Veolia and Neom (Vinci Group). Veolia is in charge of two of the three lots: deconstruction and recovery. The 3rd batch (asbestos removal) will be done by Neom. 

VF : How did you prepare yourself and what will be the different phases of the project?

PT :The work began before the submarine was docked with, in particular, a 2-year study phase for the joint development of the global scenario of deconstruction, asbestos removal and recovery. Various site preparation work was also carried out, including the installation of a tower crane by Veolia. It is a building site that breaks down into several phases: the installation of the construction site and the securing of the hull, the depollution, the asbestos removal, the deconstruction and valorization of the waste, the withdrawal of the building site and feedback of experience. Each hull will be fully processed within 18 months.

VF: In this operation, what is the share of materials recycled or valued by Veolia? What are these materials, in what proportions?

PT:The target material recycling rate is 87%: all recoverable waste is treated by Veolia. The vast majority of recycled materials are ferrous (scrap, lead) and non-ferrous (stainless steel, copper …) metals. 5,300 tonnes of waste are thus recovered for an SNLE of 6,100 tonnes. In the case of metal scrap, they are reintegrated directly into the production of ferrous or non-ferrous metals by steel mills and foundries. Given the composition of the SNLE, energy recovery is very marginal and mainly concerns certain fluids.

VF: What about non-recoverable materials and the nuclear part?

PT:Concerning non-recoverable materials, such as ordinary industrial waste and hazardous waste, they are treated, treated and valued on Veolia outlets. As for the part of the SNLE containing the nuclear part (propulsion), it was withdrawn upstream by Naval Group; the two “non-nuclear” parts of the SNLE were then rewelded and the SNLE put in water, waiting for its deconstruction.

VF: For such a project, how are the risks of pollution prevented?

PT: The deconstruction in the form of a dry dock or dry dock (basin which allows the reception of ships and their dry setting) allows the best control of the risks of pollution because all the effluents present on the site are recovered. This exceptional method offers better guarantees than the two most frequently used methods elsewhere in the world: on beach (beaching), or in slipway (ie inclined slope directly overlooking the river, the sea) where the establishment Pollution dams are not as reliable …

VF: Which Veolia team will be dedicated to this project?

PT:The Veolia team present in Cherbourg will devote itself to this project. This autonomous team consists of about twenty employees including a management structure and a team of site operators, with various training (electrical licenses, driving equipment (CACES), truck driving, SST clearance, handling) .

VF: On which experience does Veolia rely?

PT: The project is in line with Veolia’s recent contracts for the decommissioning of end-of-life vessels and recovery of hulls (Jeanne d’Arc and Colbert). These previous experiences have notably underlined the essential role of the control unit dedicated to the contract and the importance of physically positioning it on site. From ships to submarines, it is mainly in France that Veolia develops its global expertise in this deconstruction market.

VF: Is this a new project for Veolia?

PT: Absolutely, it’s a novel project in itself! Indeed, it is the first operation of this type in France (it is the first generation of SNLE) and there has been no decommissioning of nuclear submarines in France to date. For Veolia, it is also an unprecedented project, both in terms of scale and duration, and the importance of the industrial partnership.