UK and Japan tackle legacy of Fukushima and Sellafield with robotics collaboration, Institute of Mechanical Engineers,  20 Jan 2021

Professional Engineering,  Dangerous radioactive material from Fukushima and Sellafield will be retrieved by robots thanks to a new collaboration between the UK and Japan.

The £12m LongOps project is also aimed at automating aspects of nuclear fusion energy production, alongside decommissioning goals.

The four-year research collaboration will use long-reach robotic arms to make decommissioning faster and safer at Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan and at Sellafield in the UK.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster saw a triple meltdown, three hydrogen explosions and the release of radioactive material after the loss of reactor core cooling following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The Sellafield site in Cumbria is used for nuclear fuel reprocessing and storage, as well as ongoing decommissioning of previous reactors and facilities. There were 21 serious incidents of off-site radiological releases at Sellafield between 1950 and 2000, according to a paper in the Journal of Radiological Protection.

The new project will be led by the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (Race) facility. It will be funded equally by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco). ….

The decommissioning of legacy nuclear facilities and fusion facilities are complex large-scale projects that are time-intensive to accomplish safely. Using robotics allows teams to keep human workers out of danger.  ……