The nuclear option - modifed high reach solutions

By Lindsay Gale16 February 2010

Jewell Attachments has modified this Hitachi ZX800 for the particular challenge posed by nuclear dec

Jewell Attachments has modified this Hitachi ZX800 for the particular challenge posed by nuclear decommissioning work in the USA

It is not just in Europe that specific industrial sectors are demanding specially modified versions of today's hydraulic excavators. In the USA, the requirements of the US Department of Energy for machines capable of assisting with the decommissioning of a number of buildings on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and Idaho National Labs have led to the development of a number of machines specifically modified for the purpose by Jewell Attachments.

Three such examples are currently working on site - based on two Hitachi models, an EX1200 and a ZX800, and a John Deere 850D. All three carry three piece booms with working heights between 27.5 m (90 ft) and 30.5 m (100 ft), with tool weights ranging from 6.2 tonnes (15,000 lb) to 9.1 tonnes (20,000 lb). The initial boom design called for the ability to carry a 6.1 m (20 ft) boom extension and/or longer sticks for possible future requirements.

In addition to a traditional demolition guard, the machines' cabs have been retrofitted with heavier frames and armoured glass. In addition, all three are hydraulically elevating and tilting to provide optimum visibility at the tool.

The machines have also been fitted with boom cameras as a further aid to visibility, a dust suppression capability, a modular joint to allow quick changes to a standard dig boom and feature Jewell's proprietary IQAN based control and safety package. In addition, Jewell has supplied a custom boom trailer with each machine.

According to Jewell, the initial tasks that will confront the machines will be the demolition of "the canyons", which are heavily reinforced concrete structures that were designed to speed the transport of spent nuclear fuel rods.

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