The last few weeks have seen Optimum take further steps into nuclear decontamination work via our Nuclear Services programme. Trials are paramount in this very unique sector of dry ice blasting.
This week’s POCO (post op clean out) put us up against a grit/UHP Water blasting company (who are the incumbent contractor) where we were measured m2 to m2 coverage (in a set time), risk awareness, removal rate timings, clean up time, media usage, media cost etc etc.
Where Optimum succeeded was the professionalism of my crew. In the ‘wash down’ meeting and contractor reports that followed the trial, the incumbent contractor noted the failings in certain areas of risk awareness were down to their familiarity with the site, the staff and the conditions.
I know we can all be guilty of this practice after we have blasted the same machinery 10 times or more, but I really don’t think that there is room for error in the nuclear decommissioning sector. The failings weren’t major and at no stage put anybody at risk. It was just the minor detail such as pre checking filter cartridges, lock out procedure not followed to the absolute description provided, high-vis not being worn when on roadways in the external areas etc.
Small mistakes, but mistakes nonetheless. As we all know, complacency can lead to one big mistake and the whole of the abrasive/non-abrasive industry gets black booked.
Onto the other points of the test. Dry ice blasting didn’t match up to UHP Water/grit/alumina oxide when removal rate timing was monitored, or the cost of the media. But like I said in our last blog, the secondary waste clean-up costs, incurred by these forms of blasting, put these factors into insignificance.
Trials this time round consisted of:
All in all dry ice blasting in the nuclear decommissioning sector is becoming prominent. This massive industry has many uses for our processes and with a little bit more testing and trials, I feel we will be accredited as ‘best practice’ for certain sections of decontamination works.
By Ian Reynolds