Sellafield bosses have chosen four robotic vehicles from SAAB to carry more out decommissioning work after a record-breaking stint in ponds at the site.

The SAAB Seaeye Tiger robotic vehicle has worked in the spent fuel ponds at the West Cumbrian nuclear complex for nine months, transferring waste material.

It has only needed to pause during routine maintenance during this time and Sellafield has now ordered four to carry out more work.

Phil Toomey, technical manager at Sellafield Ltd, said: “The reliability of the vehicle is key for the health of operators as they must wash down the Tigers during service checks and launch and recovery.”

Exposure to radiation for operators is carefully limited, and unplanned downtime will quickly exhaust their safe working period in any one year.

The nuclear-enabled version of the Tiger gathers and sorts metre-long, 15kg radioactive fuel bars for removal to long-term storage.

The work can involve removing buried radioactive material from 30cm of sludge.