Workplaces can be contaminated by a range of contaminants. Occupational exposure to dust-emitting materials such as asbestos, lead and silica should not be taken lightly.
Take for instance asbestos. Used from the 1940s through the 1970s as highly effective and inexpensive fire-retardant material and thermal and acoustic insulator, it was only banned in Europe in 2005. Consequently many existing industrial facilities are still full of this deadly fibre, including the nuclear sector, where numerous facilities now facing decommissioning extensively used asbestos.
As a result, even simple activities like drilling a hole in materials with a risk of asbestos exposure implies a fair share of mitigation activities: restriction zoning, full respiratory system, HEPA filters with suction systems to avoid airborne contamination.
The presence of asbestos - and the need for such logistics - makes any activity complex and requires careful planning to ensure operator safety. This also leads to increased costs and the need for additional human resources.
Even though we start to see new build projects across the world, it does not mean that legacy facilities and outdated plants will not need to be decommissioned. And all those "old" sites share at least one common element they will have to deal with: asbestos.
By now, you start to know us. Any down-to-earth technology, that can make a task in a nuclear environment safer, cheaper, and faster, is what we are after. And we did find one to help with the critical topic of asbestos!
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