Drone films nuclear waste storage vault built in the ’60s [Video]
In what is believed to be the first mission of its kind in the world, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has successfully used a drone to map a vault that was built in the 1960s to store radioactive nuclear waste.
Under contract with DOE, the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center at the Idaho National Laboratory Site in eastern Idaho has been home to 4,400 cubic meters of nuclear waste called calcine for decades. Calcine is a highly radioactive, granular solid made from spent nuclear fuel.
In 2015, when the DOE’s contract came up for renewal, the state of Idaho decided it no longer wanted to harbor irradiated material. So, the Idaho Environmental Coalition (IEC) was tasked with planning the removal and movement of the calcine. But the nuclear waste was placed in huge, 20-foot-tall stainless-steel bins inside an underground storage vault with no plans for its removal, which meant that moving the calcine was not going to be easy.