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Ohio crews cleaning up a massive former Cold War-era uranium enrichment plant in Ohio plan this summer to deploy a high-tech helper: an autonomous, radiation-measuring robot that will roll through miles of large overhead pipes to spot potentially hazardous residual uranium.
Officials say it's safer, more accurate and tremendously faster than having workers take external measurements to identify which pipes need to be removed and decontaminated at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. They say it could save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars on cleanups of that site and one near Paducah, Kentucky, which for decades enriched uranium for nuclear reactors and weapons.
RadPiper - Robot - Carnegie - Mellon - University
The RadPiper robot was developed at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh for the U.S. Department of Energy, which envisions using similar technology at other nuclear complexes such as the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina, and the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington.
Roboticist William "Red" Whittaker, who began his career developing robots to help clean up the Three Mile Island nuclear power accident and now directs Carnegie Mellon's Field Robotics Center, said technology like RadPiper could transform key tasks in cleaning up the country's nuclear legacy.
Lot - Stuff - Whittaker - Nation - Years
"A lot of the easy stuff has already been done," Whittaker said. "As the nation addresses the next 50 years of this important cleanup, robots are going to have an increasingly important role in that."
The technology development director for the energy department's Office of Environmental Management, Rodrigo Rimando Jr., said every hour RadPiper operates will save an estimated eight hours of the conventional method.
Method - Insulation - Materials - Access - Pipes
That method is a slog: Once insulation and other materials are cleared to access the pipes, a worker elevated on scaffolding and wearing protective gear holds up a heavy detector, takes a reading, writes it down, and then repeats that for the next foot of pipe.
Workers did that 1.4...
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