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"Gatling gun" robot to clean up Britain's Windscale nuclear accident site

Nilay Patel

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Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the Windscale fire, the worst nuclear accident in British history, and it looks like regulators are gearing up to finish dismantling the site within the next 12 years -- beating estimates of a further 40 years. The plan centers around the use of a robot nicknamed the "Gatling gun" to remove 15 tons of damaged nuclear fuel rods from inside the Pile 1 building, which investigators weren't even able to enter until last year due to health concerns. The robot, which gets its name from its distinctive shape, won't be deployed until several other parts of the plant are decommissioned in about four years, but that's still far sooner than researchers previously thought cleanup was possible. If all goes well, the robot's developer, US-based SA Robotics, says the site will be a useable "brownfield" by 2030 -- but we'll stick to our "greenfields," thanks much.

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