NDA logo

NDA Annual Report and Accounts 2021-2022 | case studies

Drones support decommissioning

John Chappell

John Chappell is Director of Asset Management and Continuous Improvement at NDA. He explains how drones are helping to improve delivery around the NDA group.


Tell us about the project?

We’re now seeing drones used at a number of sites across the NDA group to help support decommissioning and clean-up work.

The unmanned aerial vehicles, that are remotely operated, can get to places that are more difficult or hazardous for people to access. This results in a number of benefits in terms of safety, quality of information, efficiency and cost.

High view of Sellafield site with a drone flying and worker controlling it.

What has been achieved?

Drones are being used to perform maintenance inspections, support building condition monitoring and analysis that better informs asset management planning.

At Magnox’s Wylfa site for example, they are used to inspect areas of internal integrity of its reactors that previously required scaffolding. This would historically have involved working at height and potential exposure to other risks, such as asbestos or radiation.

How does it help contribute towards delivery of the NDA group’s mission?

Changing asset management practices to meet modern standards is a key commitment within NDA’s most recent strategy.

Drones enable better information to be provided that can be digitised to maintain building configuration and improve personnel safety. Our Asset Management Digital Roadmap, once implemented, will enable information from remote sensing capability like drones to be seamlessly managed. This will enable more effective decision making whilst removing workers from hazardous environments and allowing resources to be used elsewhere.

There’s also a cost saving which helps us to ensure that we deliver value for taxpayers. This more efficient approach to asset management is saving around £150,000 per year at Wylfa alone, with similar benefits being achieved across the group.

Find out more: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in Nuclear Decommissioning – Current Use and Future Opportunities