An Introduction to Nuclear Industrial Archaeology

Erin I Holland*, Yannick S R Verbelen, Dean T Connor, Tomas L Martin, Matthew Higginson, Thomas Bligh Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The legacy from the early days of the Atomic Age consists of many problematic sites worldwide, including radioactive waste dumps, uranium mines, spent fuel reprocessing plants, and defunct processing and enrichment plants. While nature quickly reclaims abandoned sites, any remaining radioisotopes can pose a threat for millennia to come, long after the benefits gained from nuclear technology have faded. The field of nuclear industrial archaeology specialises in finding and characterising these sites to support local communities and site owners. Where maps and building plans have been lost, nuclear archaeologists deploy state-of-the-art analysis techniques on the ground to unravel the current state of legacy sites, and quantify the remaining radioactive inventories to the standard required by the nation the site is located within. The objectives of nuclear industrial archaeology are varied and site dependent. Whether the objective is to puzzle forgotten history of 1activity back together or safeguard and recover dangerous radioactive materials, nuclear industrial archaeology adapts radioanalytical laboratory and site surveying techniques in order to understand the site and allow scientists to communicate this information to support remediation efforts. This paper discusses current methodologies alongside a case study.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6178
Number of pages21
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
D.T.C. acknowledges funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the National Center for Nuclear Robotics (NCNR) (EP/R02572X/1) and from National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) through the R&D Decontamination Science Core Science Theme and NNL Post-doctorate Programme. Y.V. acknowledges funding from UKRI though the NCNR and Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear Applications (RAIN) research programs.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


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