Permanent Environment Observatory

Permanent Environment Observatory

Scientific context

The Permanent Environment Observatory (OPE), set up by Andra since 2007 at the border of the Meuse and Haute-Marne departments, aims to describe and monitor environmental changes of the Cigéo (industrial center for the geological disposal of high-level and intermediate-level long-lived radioactive waste) project area. The OPE covers an area of 900 km² around the Cigéo project site. It is essentially a rural territory with agricultural land use (crops, meadows) and forestry. The OPE offers a exceptional opportunity to monitor the overall evolution of a territory and the interrelationship (environmental, social, and economic) through long-term observations of the environmental compartments (soil, atmosphere, water, biodiversity, etc.) and an ecosystem analysis.


Starting year: 2007

Localisation: North-East of France, near the city of Nancy

Keywords: environmental monitoring


Web site:

PI: Catherine Galy

Zone d’étude de l’Observatoire Pérenne de l’environnement
Study area of the Permanent Environment Observatory © ANDRA

Scientific questions

In order to answer scientific, regulatory or territorial issues related to the implementation of a major project with a national interest, such as the Cigéo project, Andra has committed itself to the ecosystemic analysis of the observations made, including consideration of the major environmental balances and the associated socioeconomic aspects. The evaluation approach of ecosystem services should make it possible to grasp, to process, to evaluate, structure and map the observation data and thus to develop prospective development scenarios specific to the disposal sites. At the OPE territory scale,  it is a question of defining relevant indicators and developing methods of prospective simulation of environmental evolution.

Sites and measured variables

OPE comprises a complete set of resources for observing ecosystems(water, air, soil, biodiversity) and conserving environmental samples, in a area of approximately 350 km² around the Cigéo project site. Two main principles have governed its implementation: (i) to ensure, for each observable, the spatiotemporal representativeness of the sampling by a choice of mesh size and periodicity of measurements that is adapted to the variability of the territory and to current and assumed future forcings, and (ii) to integrate national environmental networks when they exist, with a dual objective of scientific quality (in particular by applying the standards and current protocols), and accessibility on a spatial scale beyond that of the host territory. The OPE is therefore part of the monitoring programs for air quality (atmosphere of the Grand-Est), water quality (according to Water Framework Directive), weather (Météo France), greenhouse gases (ICOS RI), atmospheric particles (ACTRIS RI), soil quality (RMQS), biodiversity (MNHN) and radiological background (IRSN-OpeRa) as well as agricultural, forestry, hunting and fish farming practices.

Partners and further information

The OPE is managed by ANDRA (Research and Development Department). The OPE works with many academic partners (INRAE, CEA, CNRS), University (INRAE-BEF and SYLVA, LCSE, IGE, Univ. De Lorraine LES et LAE) and institutions (IRSN, MNHN, Atmo Gd Est, Météo France, LNE, ONF, Chamber of agriculture, IGN, Hunting and fishing fédérations) and also with many consulting firms, especially for “biodiversity” monitoring.