Case Study - ANDRA



Andra was established by the French 1991 Waste Act as the public body in charge of the long-term management of all radioactive waste, under the supervision of the Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Research.

Andra has its headquarters near Paris and also operates three waste disposal facilities for very low, low and intermediate level waste.  One of these was closed in 2003 and is now in a monitoring phase.

Andra’s R&D is centred on the Meuse/Haute-Marne Centre where the Underground Research Laboratory studies the feasibility of the reversible geological disposal of high-level and long-lived intermediate-level radioactive waste in the Callovo-Oxfordian clay formation.

Andra also has a Technological Exhibition Facility (ETe) devoted to designing and operating prototypes and demonstrators at the same site.


GeoVisionary was developed by Virtalis and BGS as specialist software for the high-resolution visualisation of spatial data. The initial design goal was to ensure that data sets for large regions, national to sub-continental, could be loaded simultaneously and at full resolution, while allowing real-time interaction with the data.

One of the major advantages GeoVisionary offers over other visualisation software (3 & 4D GIS) is its ability to integrate very large volumes of data from multiple sources, allowing a greater understanding of diverse spatial datasets.

Adrien Mangeot, Information Systems Engineer within Andra’s Department of Research and Development Division, explained: “We were wowed the first time we encountered GeoVisionary at the British Geological Survey (BGS). The idea of being able to visualise all our data in 3D, including photos, GoCad geological data, borehole data, details of geological faults, geological maps and even our own laboratories 490 meters below ground level, astounded us. Working closely with BGS, we thoroughly tested and experimented with our various data sources with GeoVisionary before taking the plunge and implementing GeoVisionary as our 3D visualisation system.”


ANDRA completed a rigorous two year analysis into GeoVisionary before giving the system the official go-ahead.  GeoVisionary is acting as an umbrella 3D visualisation system for data from various sources; principally Andra’s Geo database, which holds samples and geoscientific data and SAGD, a database which holds all the real-time experimental data collected from thousands of sensors in numerous drifts and bore holes.

“We’ve created an information rich, 2,000 square kilometre GeoVisionary model centred round our Underground Research Laboratory”, commented Mangeot. The fact that all 7,000 measured parameters feed into it was something we never envisaged would be possible when the SAGD database was begun in 2003.  Previously, we had to go from one database to another to view specific information. Now it is all there – in one place.  It is almost complete, but, as we constantly collect data, the model will never be static.


“GeoVisionary’s immersive qualities make the data easier to understand, so engender collaborative working. Although we didn’t plan this initially, we are using GeoVisionary as a communication tool with the local population and with Government. It is the easiest way to make our research intelligible to the lay person. GeoVisionary will also be a central tool within our research, prior to the construction of CIGEO, the planned facility for the storage of high-level and long-lived intermediate-level radioactive waste in 2017. Importing all our data into GeoVisionary has been time-consuming, but the benefits will be enormous, as we will be able to get at all our data and truly appreciate its richness through textures, high resolution images and depth perception.” 


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