Decontamination experts at the former nuclear site at Dounreay, northern Scotland, are using the Cillit Bang household cleaner to remove radioactive plutonium stains.
The huge site in Caithness is in the process of being decommissioned but workers found their normal cleaning fluid was slowing down the job of dismantling an experimental chemical plant used in the 1980s to recycle plutonium liquor. One of the team suggested £1.99 Cillit Bang after watching a television advertisement that shows dirt being stripped from a 10p coin.
The four-story chemical plant consists of a series of vessels, pipes and boxes made from steel and toughened glass. The solutions which ran through it left the steel stained with plutonium, creating a hazard for the team taking it apart. David Hanson, project manager with Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd, said the efficacy of Cillit Bang was helping drive down the £2.6 billion costs of demolishing the site.
He said: "We need to decontaminate as much of the surfaces as possible before we can cut them up. The normal agents we'd use on steel and glass need time to dry and this slowed us down."The acids that had been used years ago also created problems. It meant we had to think carefully about the most effective way to wipe the plutonium from the steelwork before we could cut it up."One of the guys suggested Cillit Bang. He remembered seeing it dissolve the grime on a coin in an advert on TV and thought it was worth looking at. I'm very glad we did. We tested it and found it very effective."
The 15-strong clean-up team wear whole-body plastic suits with their own oxygen supply and often need four or even five layers of gloves to protect them from radiation.