UV - Unmanned Vehicles

Tiger ROVs selected to clear nuclear waste

5th October 2017 - 10:10 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Two Saab Seaeye Tiger remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) have been selected by Sellafield to clear nuclear waste in the radioactive ponds at the Sellafield’s nuclear site, the company announced on 3 October.

The Tigers will work continuously for six months at a time between scheduled maintenance periods.

The Tigers have a thruster working life of 10,000 hours. The ROVs will clean up and empty the legacy storage ponds by collecting and sorting nuclear material, including radioactive fuel bars. The nuclear waste can be buried in about 30cms of sludge, which is radioactive and hazardous.

Weighing 15kg, each fuel bar is nearly one metre long, and is gripped in the middle by the Tiger’s under-slung  manipulator, monitored and identified, then transferred to a skip which can be removed from the pond for safer storage in a more modern facility.

Phil Toomey, technical manager at Sellafield, said: ‘Reliability is the key for the health of operators. They must wash down the Tigers during maintenance checks as exposure to radiation for operators is carefully limited, so unplanned downtime will quickly exhaust their safe working period in any one year.’

Sellafield aims to have removed all bulk fuel and sludge from its legacy ponds by 2022.

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