Boom Pumps to Cool Japan’s Nuclear Reactors

Two 70Z-Meter concrete boom pumps – claimed to be the world’s largest – departed Saturday from Los Angeles International Airport and Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport and headed for Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant to help contain the damaged nuclear reactors there.

Putzmeister America, Inc., based in Sturtevant, is a division of one of the world’s leading heavy equipment manufacturers, Putzmeister Concrete Pumps GmbH (PCP). Together, the two affiliates sent four additional boom pumps to join one already working on the effort.

Meanwhile, Car Town creator Cie Games, a leading developer of online social games, says it will donate 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of the virtual emergency vehicle to the American Red Cross and its Japan disaster relief efforts. (Read: Wanted: Facebook Gamers for Japan Disaster Relief)

Recently, at the Sony Ericsson Open, the tennis family came together for a special fundraising event for the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster, dubbed “Tennis for Japan”, featuring the stars of the WTA and the ATP World Tour. (Read: Tennis Stars Raise Funds for Japan Disaster Relief)

In a related development, concentrations of Iodine-131, likely originating from the events at Japan’s damaged nuclear plants, were found in rainwater samples collected from Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plant facilities.

However, Governor Tom Corbett said that weekend testing of public drinking water found no elevated levels of radioactivity. (Read: Is Drinking Water Safe in Pennsylvania?)

The world watched in horror on March 11, 2011, as the fourth largest earthquake ever recorded crippled Japan and triggered a massive tsunami that swallowed entire communities, leaving unprecedented catastrophe in its wake. 

All the while, amateur videographers, news crews, tourists and countless others were recording the sights and sounds of the unfolding chaos. From the producers of the special Witness Katrina, NGC (National Geographic Channel) now presents Witness: Disaster in Japan, a firsthand look at the tragedy, through the eyes of those who experienced it. (Read: Witness Disaster in Japan with National Geographic)

According to Putzmeister, each of the 70Z-Meter pumps sent from the U.S. weighs approximately 190,000 pounds and has a boom reach over 227 feet. They’re traveling on Russian Antonov cargo jets, among the world’s largest aircraft, and two technicians are accompanying each pump to provide training and ensure operators are comfortable using the equipment.

Normally used to pour concrete for bridges and high-rise construction projects, the machines offer pin point accuracy and unmatched reach to directly target hotspots within the reactors, says the company. The pump is operated via remote control, so the operator is able to remain in a safe location approximately 1.2 miles away.

According to Putzmeister, it has previous experience working on nuclear power plants in crisis and other disasters. After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, Putzmeister sent 11 boom pumps to help place the concrete to entomb the reactor block. Also, for more than 25 years, Putzmeister concrete pumps have been used in fire-fighting operations, it says.

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Rakesh Raman