§ Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what research is sponsored by his Department on the use of robots for remote intrusive maintenance of nuclear plants; what consultations he or officers of his Department have had with the United States Department of Energy over its research programme in this field; and whether he has any information on developments in Japan and France in this specific use of robots.
§ Mr. Michael Spicer
My Department contributes towards the costs of certain UKAEA programmes which cover a number of robotics and remote handling applications, particularly in the areas of radioactive waste management and decommissioning. My Department is also participating in a European Community research and training programme (TELEMAN), which is concerned with the contribution that robots and remote handling equipment can make to nuclear safety in routine inspection and maintenance, in accident management, and in decommissioning. This programme keeps us in touch with the programmes of our Community partners, including France. (Further details of this programme are available in the Official Journal of the European Communities dated 3 August 1989 and 22 September 1988, copies of which are available in the Library of the House).
Consultations with the United States Department of Energy (USDOE) are carried out under a formal co-operation agreement with the UKAEA. There have also been discussions on the application of robotics to decommissioning with USDOE, both as part of a bilateral agreement and as part of the OECD/Nuclear Energy Agency exchange agreement on decommissioning.
Information on developments in Japan is received through published documents and through the atomic energy counsellor in the British Embassy in Tokyo.