Office of Environmental Management

Hanford Workers Develop Innovative Tool to Safely Probe Contaminated Facility

January 15, 2019

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Workers deploy a robotic device to safely investigate and collect data from a potentially hazardous area of a former nuclear processing facility.
Workers deploy a robotic device to safely investigate and collect data from a potentially hazardous area of a former nuclear processing facility.

RICHLAND, Wash.Hanford Site workers developed an innovative tool to remotely explore and sample potentially hazardous areas of a former nuclear processing facility for the first time in nearly two decades.

   Workers with EM Richland Operations Office (RL) contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC) modified a small robotic device to safely investigate areas suspected of high radioactive contamination in the Reduction Oxidation (REDOX) facility, one of five former processing facilities in central Hanford.

   The robot is equipped with instruments to detect radioactivity and radiological contamination. An attached camera allows the operator to guide the device to an area under investigation.

   “DOE is encouraged by the potential of this tool,” said Bill Hamel, RL assistant manager for river and plateau cleanup. “We will use lessons learned from this project to consider possible applications of this device at similar facilities across the site.”

Personnel equipped the robot with instruments to detect radioactivity and radiological contamination.
Personnel equipped the robot with instruments to detect radioactivity and radiological contamination.

   The device identified a safe path for entry and exit of the area to help inform future cleanup efforts. Using data collected from the robot, planners will design work packages that reduce risk to workers and the environment.

   “This is a great example of the ingenuity of our team in developing cost-effective solutions to improve safety and productivity,” said Tom Bratvold, CHPRC vice president for the Central Plateau Risk Management Project.

 

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