How Sellafield’s radiation-proof robots do our dirty work

It was the birthplace of Britain’s nuclear industry, and the site of its worst nuclear accident.

For decades, the Sellafield plant in Cumbria could lay claim to being one of the most controversial industrial complexes in Britain.

Now, however, it is playing a new role – as a giant test bed for specialised technology and techniques used in nuclear decommissioning.

Flying drones, remote-controlled submarines and industrial robots have all been brought in to carry out tasks which are simply too dangerous, or even impossible, for humans to do.

Chequered history

The first reactors at Sellafield were rushed into service in the early 1950s. Their role was to produce plutonium for the country’s atomic weapons programme.

But cold war power came at a price. Infamously, one of the reactors caught fire in 1957, contaminating the surrounding farmland. A major disaster was only narrowly avoided.

Despite that setback, Sellafield continued to grow. The world’s first commercial nuclear power station was built at the site, for example. It also became a hub for the nuclear reprocessing industry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>