Orano to use robot in first-of-a-kind dismantling

05 February 2020

Orano has won a contract to dismantle the walls and structure of two former used fuel interim storage pools at Marcoule in France. Under the contract, awarded by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the company will use a 12-tonne robot in one of the biggest such projects carried out in the country.

The 12-tonne robot will be equipped with a circular saw (Image: Orano)

The four-year project will include technical studies and dismantling operations. After being cut up, the elements will be sorted according to radiological activity, then conditioned and removed to an approved waste disposal centre.

"The challenge and the resources involved are considerable but I have full confidence in our ability to complete this unprecedented work at Marcoule successfully," Alain Vandercruyssen, senior executive vice president of Orano's Dismantling and Services business unit, said.

The robot, which is equipped with a circular saw, is the biggest remotely controlled cutting machine available, the company says, and will accelerate completion of the work, thus reducing the operators' radiation exposure.

Established in the 1950s, Marcoule is the CEA's reference site for nuclear fuel cycle research including used fuel processing and recycling, and radioactive waste management. It was home to three prototype gas-cooled reactors - the 2 MWe G1 reactor, which was commissioned in 1956 and operated until 1968; and two 40 MWe reactors, G2 and G3, (1958-1980 and 1959-1984, respectively) - and the UP1 reprocessing plant, which closed in 2007. The three reactors and the UP1 plant are at various stages of decontamination and dismantling.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News