Scientists are using Blu-Tack to clean nuclear waste

BLU-Tack, can openers and other household items have been used by thrifty scientists in the decommissioning of a nuclear power station.

The Dounreay power plant, in Caithness, Scotland, is in the process of a £1bn shutdown operation that has seen scientists tasked with finding cheaper ways to deal with the hazardous material that is left at the site.

In an attempt to retrieve pieces of radioactive metal from the inside of the station's Prototype Fast Reactor, staff resorted to using Blu-Tack attached to a 10-metre-long pole to fish out the material, the BBC reported.

The home-made solution saved scientists from having to come up with a more time-consuming and costly new design for a specialist tool to do the job, reportedly saving thousands of pounds.

Other household items have also played a part in the clean-up such as an ironing board cover and a duvet, which doubled up as a protective cover for a camera that was built to explore and document the inside of pipes at the station.

Staff had also reportedly used tin cans to store radioactive material over the past three decades, with can openers also put to use at the Dounreay site to open the cans.

Lang Banks, director of environmental group WWF Scotland, said: "The ingenuity of those involved in cleaning up Dounreay's radioactive legacy certainly has to be praised."

However he added: "Not all the challenges faced in dealing with the thousands of tonnes of waste the nuclear industry has left in its wake right across the country will be so easy to solve.

"It's just another reason why Scotland is right to be choosing an energy future based on clean renewables instead of hazardous and expensive new nuclear power."

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