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Pump to be shipped from Santa Fe Springs to aid Japan plant

April 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
An international company with strong local connections is helping cool Japan's damaged nuclear reactors.

The company, Putzmeister, already has one massive concrete pump working in Japan,

The first of two will be flown from California to Japan on Friday to help prevent a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The boom pump is designed for pouring concrete, but is headed there to pour tons of water an hour on the damaged nuclear reactors. It's one of the largest pumps of its type in the world, a 70-foot-long massive piece of wheeled machinery that weighs 176,000 pounds.

It will be able to raise its boom 227 feet and shoot 210 cubic yards of water an hour into the plant. It's hoped it will help cool the overheated rods and help stop the meltdown.

"There are so many people that worked on this project to get where it's at," said Gary Schmidt, a Putzmeister sales manager. "We're all proud to do it and pleased we can help."

Schmidt will be going with the truck Friday in a gigantic Russian cargo plane. When he gets the machine to Tokyo, he'll help train the Japanese to operate the machinery.

This won't be the first time Putzmeister has helped during a nuclear disaster.

Chernobyl is the world's worst nuclear disaster so far, and the Putzmeister pumps were used to pour concrete into and on the plant to seal it.

If it should become another Chernobyl-like meltdown, the trucks can be used to cap the plants with concrete.

"To switch from water to concrete takes no time at all," Schmidt said. "There are no adjustments needed. They would have to get the water out of the pipe, which takes only a matter of minutes, and then you can prime and start pumping concrete."

Shortly after the scope of the disaster became apparent, the Japanese paid what amounts to dealer's cost to buy the boom pump trucks.

It's going to cost them about $1 million to ship each truck to Tokyo.

In five days, if all goes as planned, it should be in Japan. After a few days of training for the Japanese, it's on its way to a nuclear disaster to perhaps make it safer for the Japanese and the rest of the world.