Drones will Map High-Level Radioactive Waste Storage Facility in Idaho

As part of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Environmental Management (EM) Calcine Retrieval Project (CRP) at the Idaho National Laboratory, a light detection and ranging-equipped drone will be launched for the first time inside a high-level radioactive waste storage facility to map it.

Three CRP engineers have recently completed initial training on piloting at INTEC and then inside a more confined space within the facility as part of their training provided by the drone manufacturer.

The training served as initial practice for a complicated mission planned for later this year. Engineers will fly the drone inside a waste storage vault at INTEC that houses a set of four cylindrical bins, known as Bin Set 1, that contain 220 cubic meters of high-level radwaste known as calcine.

Calcine is a dry hard granular material similar to coarse sand. It is highly radioactive and is managed as a radioactive waste.

The waste will ultimately be transferred using pressurized air from Bin Set 1 to Bin Set 6. Once the Project is complete, data collected by the drone will be used to create a detailed map of the piping and other obstructions in the concrete storage facility to prepare for positioning waste removal equipment.

According to the US Department of Energy