View all newsletters
Receive our newsletter - data, insights and analysis delivered to you
  1. Technology
  2. Data
January 17, 2019

Robotics Helping with Sellafield Clean Up “Headache”

“Our current plans indicate that it will take around 110 years to complete our core mission of nuclear clean-up and waste management”

By CBR Staff Writer

The Nuclear Decommission Authority (NDA) has begun the long process of removing radioactive waste from one of four legacy ponds located in Sellafield, the nuclear fuel reprocessing and decommissioning site in Cumbria.

Controllable robotic arms manufactured by Swedish machine designers Brokk are being used to gather up radioactive sludge currently dumped in a pond designated D-Bay. D-Bay holds a significant amount of nuclear waste with some estimates placing it at 700 tonnes.

The legacy pond D-bay is a highly radioactive area making it difficult to operate in. Robotic arms have been attached to an overhead crane that can move the arms into different positions above the pond before they are submerged into the radioactive water.

Attached to the arms is a suction device which vacuums up the sludge that has built up in the pond over time. The robotic device is also equipped with tools to cut up larger pieces of wastes so that can be removed easily.

Nuclear Decommission Authority and the UK’s Radioactive Legacy

All the waste materials recovered from D-Bay are being transferred to a state-of-the-art plant for future storage.

Dorothy Gradden Head of Legacy Ponds at Sellafield Ltd commented in a released statement that “D-Bay has always been one of our biggest headaches at Sellafield.”

Content from our partners
Scan and deliver
GenAI cybersecurity: "A super-human analyst, with a brain the size of a planet."
Cloud, AI, and cyber security – highlights from DTX Manchester

“After years of designing, making and installing the necessary equipment, we are now delighted to be safely reducing the hazard day by day.”

Nuclear Decommission Authority

The D-bay facility is a waste storage silo once used to dump radioactive materials from the UK’s Magnox line of power stations, predominantly used from the 1950s to 1970s.

D-Bay is only one of four legacy ponds located at the site in Sellafield that the NDA have targeted for risky cleaning operations; the risk is reduced with the use of robotics.

The United Kingdom has 17 historic sites that are destined to be decommissioned or ‘cleaned’ in the coming years. Three site are in Scotland, while the remaining 14 are located in England and Wales.

A report from the NDA states that: “Our current plans indicate that it will take around 110 years to complete our core mission of nuclear clean-up and waste management.”

The work is expected to cost £155 billion, but this number could increase in the coming years as the complexity of the challenge emerges. They estimate that over 70 percent of the funding and time will have to be committed to the Sellafield site.

The NDA has a daunting task ahead that will take many lifetimes to overcome as the UK has over 1,000 hectares of nuclear licensed land with over 10,000 plants and buildings that have to be demolished.

See Also: Thales and Wales Partner to Build £20 Million National Digital Centre

Websites in our network
Select and enter your corporate email address Tech Monitor's research, insight and analysis examines the frontiers of digital transformation to help tech leaders navigate the future. Our Changelog newsletter delivers our best work to your inbox every week.
  • CIO
  • CTO
  • CISO
  • CSO
  • CFO
  • CDO
  • CEO
  • Architect Founder
  • MD
  • Director
  • Manager
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.