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Inside Sellafield's Death Zone With the Nuclear Clean-­p Robots

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A view into the Thorp nuclear reprocessing plant through meter-thick leaded glass.

Robots will be used to clean up the toxic environment inside the defunct Thorp nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield, Cumbria, U.K.


The defunct Thorp nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield, Cumbria in the U.K. is a toxic environment that must be cleaned up by robots.

The robots will begin the first stage of decommissioning by removing machinery and debris, then the cell will be washed repeatedly using water or acids to reduce the level of radioactivity, with the ultimate goal of full decontamination.

Other sections of the plant also need to be cleaned up by robots and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). Some of these systems must be developed from scratch, while others can be adapted from ROVs already used in other industries, like oil and gas, car manufacturing, and the space sector.

Said Melanie Brownridge of the U.K. Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, "We'll need to look at novel decontamination agents to help us clean out the plant more effectively. That should help us remove more of the radioactivity early on, so that we can get on with the decommissioning job sooner."

From BBC News
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