Paducah Tests Its First Robot to Support Cleanup Mission

Workers are introducing a first at EM’s Paducah Site — use of robot technology — to set the stage for future deactivation and remediation work at the former Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP).

With the Paducah Site in the early phases of deactivating process buildings, site engineers recently tested a robot pipe crawler designed to inspect piping previously used to support uranium enrichment operations. The system is customized to work in process gas piping and other PGDP equipment. A similar system is used to inspect municipal water pipelines.

The robot crawler transports a camera and a sodium iodide detector to locate uranium deposits through process piping and equipment.

At the end of the inspection, workers download a file containing the data collected during the robot’s scan, which indicates where deposits are held up within the equipment. This new technology provides analysts a safe way to learn more about what these pipes contain without having to manually scan each section of pipe.

The work is being performed by Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership (FRNP), EM’s deactivation and remediation contractor for the PGDP.

“Robotic technology gives our analysts a rare look inside process gas piping and equipment without having to cut or drill into the piping,” said FRNP Program Manager Myrna Redfield.

Additionally, the robot pipe crawler is anticipated to play an important role in determining a safe and compliant method to dispose of process gas piping.

“A similar technology was used at our sister plant in Portsmouth, Ohio,” Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office Site Manager Joel Bradburne said. “Shared lessons learned from Portsmouth allowed us to enhance these capabilities for use at Paducah, utilizing best practices applications to the fullest.”

Click here to view a video on the robot pipe crawler technology.