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The burial of radioactive waste in deep geological repositories has gradually imposed itself since the 1980s in various countries. Considered more stable, safe, and responsible than storage above ground, this solution is seen as a way of keeping the waste out of human reach, and of freeing oneself of the obligation to monitor repositories. However, it soon became clear that the idea of relying on the relative stability of deep geological repositories for the safe disposal of nuclear waste to remove it from the ‘all too human’ risks associated with history’s turbulences, has produced new uncertainties, and raised new questions, given the multi-millennial time scales involved.
This article presents a study of the strategies adopted by the actors in charge of radioactive waste management in the face of the temporal constraints imposed by the length of their radioactive life. More specifically, it is intended to question the representations of temporality that allow the designers of these projects to assume their responsibilities by transmitting information and warnings towards to an extremely distant future, to recipients who are not easily representable and for whom they already have a responsibility even though they do not yet exist.