As the unfathomable tragedy in Japan evolves into a massive effort to contain the damaged nuclear reactors at the country's Fukushima Daiichi plant, Putzmeister America, Inc. is part of a global effort to help. Putzmeister America, Inc., based in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, is a division of one of the world's most well-recognized and respected heavy equipment manufacturers, Putzmeister Concrete Pumps GmbH (PCP). Putzmeister affiliates are working together to send four additional boom pumps to join the one already working to cool Fukushima's reactor No. 4. Two of these pumps, the world's largest concrete boom pumps, are coming from Putzmeister America. Two additional pumps are being sent from PCP.
The two pumps coming from the U.S. are tentatively scheduled to depart on Saturday, April 9. The first is being prepped for the flight at Putzmeister's West Coast Customer Support Center in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and will depart from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX); the other was prepped in North Charleston, S.C. and is currently en route to Atlanta, where it will depart from Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport (ATL). Each pump weighs approximately 190,000 pounds and has a boom reach of over 227 feet. They are being flown to Japan via two Russian Antonov AN-225 Mriya Super Heavy Transport planes,the world's largest aircraft, originally designed to transport the Russian Space Shuttle.
"Like many people all over the world, our thoughts have been with the people of Japan as they deal with this unprecedented crisis," said Dave Adams, president and CEO of Putzmeister America. "Fortunately, we have a piece of equipment that is working to help cool Japan's nuclear reactors, so we're moving full speed ahead to get the additional pumps to Japan to help sustain the effort."
Adams will be part of a group from Putzmeister America and PCP that will accompany the pumps to Japan. Two technicians will accompany each pump from the U.S., and will help train power plant operators to ensure they are comfortable operating the boom pumps and that the equipment performs as needed. Training will be done at a Putzmeister facility just outside of Tokyo.
The concrete boom pumps -- normally used to pour concrete for bridges and high-rise construction projects -- are well-suited for the task because of the pin point accuracy of the machine's reach. It's able to feed water over the destroyed buildings to the exact place of the hotspots within the reactors. In addition, because the pump is operated via radio remote control, the operator is able to remain in a safe location approximately 1.2 miles away while maneuvering the boom pump.
Two Putzmeister customers -- Mike Parigini of Associated Concrete Pumping in Sacramento, Calif., and Jerry Ashmore of Ashmore Concrete Contractors, Inc. in Evans, Ga. -- recognized their 70Z-Meter concrete pumps have the capabilities needed for the cooling operations and without hesitation offered the pumps to be available. The 70Z-Meter pumps are the largest boom pumps in use worldwide.
Putzmeister has previous experience working on nuclear power plants in crisis and other disaster situations. After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, Putzmeister sent 11 boom pumps to help place the concrete that entombed reactor block 4 to prevent additional radiation from being emitted. Also, for more than 25 years, Putzmeister concrete pumps have been used in fire-fighting operations with a spray nozzle retrofit.