PhD Student, Université Paris Cité
Discipline: Science, technology and society
Dissertation title: In the Name of the Environment. From the solution to the problems of hazardous waste burial in France (working title)
Under the supervision of Soraya Boudia (Cermes3) and Hélène Michel (Sage)
Based on the case study of the Stocamine underground hazardous waste storage site, this thesis seeks to understand the problems posed by a socio-technical infrastructure in contrast to the solutions it proposes. The thesis is structured in two parts that allow us to reconstruct the way in which the burial of hazardous waste is successively presented as a solution and then as a problem by different groups of actors. The thesis intends to return to the different political and technical spaces in which hazardous waste and its burial are problematized.
The first part traces the way in which the burial of hazardous waste is presented as a solution to two problems: the accumulation of hazardous industrial waste in France and the deindustrialization of the Alsatian potassium basin. In order to make the project acceptable to the population, the political and industrial actors, with the support of expert opinions, put forward the protection of the environment through the underground storage of hazardous waste. But contrary to the technical promises made in the 1980s and 1990s, the subsoil is not an immutable space whose properties eliminate the dangerousness of the waste.
The second part of the thesis shows how landfill becomes a technical, political, economic and environmental problem for national and local actors alike. From 2010 onwards, the removal of hazardous waste from landfills is requested by many actors because of the risks of groundwater pollution. The protection of the environment which initially justified the burial of hazardous waste was then used to justify the removal of the waste.