Inside and out: UAV unveils structural secrets at Sellafiled

High-resolution survey of Sellefiald chimney stack gives demolition team a clear view of the task ahead

James Fisher Nuclear (JFN) and project management consultancy WYG have conducted the first external Unmanned Aerial Vehicle high-resolution structural survey of a chimney stack within Sellafield’s high security chemical separation active area.

The detailed UAV survey of the chimney stack precisely assessed how the chimney’s cowling, at the top of the stack, was constructed. This new data will allow Sellafield to compile an accurate method statement for its safe removal.

Previously, an inspection of this kind would have required the erection of scaffolding or special access vehicles, both of which are costly and require operators to work at height.

Sellafield’s John Daniel said: “Within the first seven minutes, the JFN and WYG team gave us key information we could not ascertain from the existing drawing record.

“The new information the UAV has provided helps the project fully understand what is awaiting the demolition team when it reaches the top, and preparations can be made to ensure a safe and efficient transition from climb to demolition can be made.”

A further two flights were carried out around all sides of the chimney to provide WYG with the information it needed to create a comprehensive 3D model of the stack. The pilots then carried out a final pass over the top of the stack to look inside the flue.

The project team is now organising a further UAV inspection of the inside of the stack area to improve their understanding of the cowl structure. JFN is also considering more aerial surveys around the Sellafield site.