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Using portable band saws for nuclear decommissioning projects


Nuclear decommissioning projects can be incredibly complex, as you will rightly know. Any on-site machining that is required needs to be swift, safe, cost effective and without any issues along the way.

For those requiring tubular severance of some form, band saws are available to rent or buy.

Recently, Mirage Machines have designed bespoke machines for specific decommissioning projects in highly radioactive areas in Europe. Here are the case studies of how we assisted our clients ONET and Dounereay Site Restoration.

Case study 1 - ONET

ONET required stainless steel pipes to be cut and removed, below concrete, in a highly radioactive environment in North France. With internal diameters ranging between 30mm and 153mm, the steel pipes required extraction 5 metres below reactor main floor level, through concrete.

Mirage custom designed the machine and tooling to complete the job which included supplying a bandsaw with steel tooling to cut through the thick pipes, as well as 2 pairs of severing and extraction machine.

Issues with nuclear exposure absorption were overcome through the use of a special coating on all machines, meaning the risk to health and safety of their staff was kept to a minimum.

Case study 2 - Dounreay Site Restoration

Client Dounreay Site Restoration required machining for the nuclear decommissioning of a low level waste facility based onshore in Dounreay, Scotland.

Mirage were required to create a bespoke machine with a PP2 hydraulic power pack to face the challenges of the nuclear decommissioning. This included special coatings to protect it from reacting to a highly volatile atmosphere.

The machine was also adapted to cut through multiple shapes, sizes and forms of steel and connected to a remote operation device.

The job was completed on time, with reduced health risks to staff and with FAT (Factory Acceptance Test) in attendance.

Are they really essential?

Depending upon what you need a portable bandsaw for, depends on whether you see it as an essential tool.


Not just for tubular and pipe severance, the band saw can also be used for cutting conductors, caissons and multiple grouted strings of various sizes either on surface of underwater, for those companies working in subsea.

A tool that does more than one job is worth investing in.


Bespoke and automatic

As well as the 'off-the-shelf' portable band saws, the two case studies above show Mirage has the capability to create bespoke machining for your needs.

Not just able to change dimensions, Mirage has proved that band saws can be customised to handle highly volatile and radioactive areas using special coatings on the machine - not to mention the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) capabilities.


With the ability to execute a fast and efficient cold cutting method, band saws can reduce the cost per cut of any nuclear decommissioning service. With a quick swing clamp included too, initial product set-up faster than traditional forms for pipe cutting.

If a flexible, ROV capable and efficient piece of machine is what you require, then maybe its time to start looking seriously at a tool like this.

Photo Credit: Geograph

 Download Decommissioning Machine Tools Buyers Guide

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