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Title: Robots remove explosive waste from flooded site

Explosive industrial waste can remain hazardous for years, making remediation extremely dangerous, particularly when using traditional methods involving people and manually operated equipment. The work is even more complex if the waste is submerged. Authorities in 1988 faced an unusual challenge when they decided to clean up a flooded area that had been used for more than 30 years as a dump for explosive materials. They devised an innovative but highly effective solution. Instead of using divers, two robots perform the cleanup while site personnel remain 600 feet away from the restricted area. The robots were developed by Sonsub Environmental Services Inc. (Houston), which is responsible for their operation. The robots initially located and cleared a small area underwater to set up a metal-processing system, which also was designed by Sonsub. The system is similar to a metal-recycling shredder. The robots then assembled the 25-foot-tall, 20-ton system 60 feet below the surface on the pit floor. A large, surface robot carried sections of the shredder to the cleared area and lowered them, while a smaller, submersible robot guided them into position. This required extreme precision by the smaller robot, which had to ensure that sections mated properly. Both robots nowmore » retrieve waste from the pit bottom and feed it into the shredder. The larger robot has a 40-foot jointed arm for lifting up to 1,000 pounds of debris, a manipulator hand for sorting through rock piles and removing small containers, and a grapple for picking up items from the pit floor.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
5942702
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Hazmat World; (United States); Journal Volume: 6:10
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; EXPLOSIVES; MATERIALS RECOVERY; METALS; ROBOTS; EFFICIENCY; INDUSTRIAL WASTES; REMEDIAL ACTION; UNDERWATER; WASTE PROCESSING; ELEMENTS; LEVELS; MANAGEMENT; PROCESSING; WASTE MANAGEMENT; WASTES 540250* -- Environment, Terrestrial-- Site Resource & Use Studies-- (1990-)