Robot Goes Underground At Dounreay
1st April 2022
A robot has successfully surveyed an underground radioactive ventilation duct in Dounreay's redundant laboratories.
Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) and the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in Nuclear (RAIN) Hub are working together to develop a robot capable of accessing areas that are inaccessible or unsafe for humans to work in. The RAIN Hub is a consortium of universities led by the University of Manchester.
In 2020 a group of engineers from RAIN brought a small surveying remotely operated vehicle equipped with sensors, cameras and a manipulator ‘arm' to Dounreay. Initial trials in an inactive building provided useful information, and a limited survey in the laboratories took place last year.
As a result of this field research, a second generation robot called Lyra was developed, with an improved package of surveying measures including LIDAR (a detection system similar to radar, but which uses lasers), multiple angle cameras, radiation probes and the ability to take swabs using the manipulator arm.
In February, the robot returned to carry out a survey of the 140m long underfloor duct which runs under the central corridor between the laboratories, providing useful information that will help to solve the challenge of decommissioning it.
DSRL Project Manager Jason Simpson said:Now the characterisation survey is complete we have built up a very comprehensive picture of the duct, which will help us make informed decisions on how the duct should be decommissioned.
RAIN Hub Director Barry Lennox added:We wanted to demonstrate that the robot could be used successfully in active areas. We added fail safe devices, including a remote "reboot" switch, and a winch to enable us to physically retrieve the robot if it got stuck on the debris in the duct. The survey has demonstrated Lyra’s reliability in active areas.
In April 2021, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) became a subsidiary company of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) Group. The Cavendish Dounreay Partnership ceased.
Three long-serving NDA group employees have been awarded honours by Her Majesty The Queen in the Platinum Jubilee Honours List for services to the nuclear industry and their local communities. Cath Giel, Communications and Stakeholder Relations Director at the LLW Repository Site in Cumbria until her retirement earlier this year, was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE).
A celebration of innovation at Dounreay held recently, recognising how innovation is part of everything they do at the site to achieve our mission. On the day, we celebrated the many successes we have achieved in our approach to decommissioning.
Two large redundant items that were removed from Dounreay's facilities have now left the site for disposal or diversion, opening up new waste routes. Dounreay in partnership with Nuclear Waste Services and its contractor Cyclife first trialled an alternative treatment option for the site's metallic waste in 2019, when 66 tonnes of redundant metal equipment were sent to Cyclife's specialist facility for recycling.
This strategy sets out the NDA group's five-year path to becoming a leader in sustainability. Transforming nuclear legacies into sustainable opportunities is the focus of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) group's new Sustainability Strategy 2022.
This report published on 28 March 2022 summarises the gender pay gap for the NDA group as a whole. Within the individual organisations that make up the group: Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Sellafield Limited Magnox Limited Dounreay Site Restoration Limited Low Level Waste Repository Limited Radioactive Waste Management Limited International Nuclear Services Limited Direct Rail Services Limited.
A new approach to decommissioning the Vulcan nuclear site next door to Dounreay by the Ministry of Defence has been been indicated. It was confirmed at Wednesday's meeting of Dounreay Stakeholder Group (DSG) that the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency was being considered to take over the work.
The details of particle finds on Dounreay foreshore has been updated. See full details at - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/radioactive-particles-in-the-environment-around-dounreay/dounreay-foreshore-particle-finds-2021.
Particles are fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel discharged to sea as a result of historic practices in reprocessing. Used fuel from the reactors on site and other research reactors in Britain and abroad was recycled in the site's reprocessing facilities.
Information about how to work with Dounreay as a supplier was updated on 15th February 2022. Businesses can check it all out HERE .