SRS pump will head to Japan

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The world's largest concrete pump, deployed at the construction site of the U.S. government's $4.86 billion mixed oxide fuel plant at Savannah River Site, is being moved to Japan in a series of emergency measures to help stabilize the Fukushima reactors.

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Jerry Ashmore of Augusta-based Ashmore Concrete Contractors, Inc. says one of the world's largest concrete pumps is needed to help stabilize the Fukushima reactors in Japan.  Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Jerry Ashmore of Augusta-based Ashmore Concrete Contractors, Inc. says one of the world's largest concrete pumps is needed to help stabilize the Fukushima reactors in Japan.

"The bottom line is, the Japanese need this particular unit worse than we do, so we're giving it up," said Jerry Ashmore, whose company, Augusta-based Ashmore Concrete Contractors, Inc., is the concrete supplier for the MOX facility.

The 190,000-pound pump, made by German-based Putzmeister has a 70-meter boom and can be controlled remotely, making it suitable for use in the unpredictable and highly radioactive environment of the doomed nuclear reactors in Japan, he said.

"There are only three of these pumps in the world, of which two are suited for this work, so we have to get it there as soon as we can," Ashmore said in an interview Thursday. "Time is very much a factor."

The pump was moved Wednesday from the construction site in Aiken County to a facility in Hanahan, S.C., for minor modifications, and will be trucked to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where it will be picked up by the world's largest cargo plane, the Russian-made Antonov 225, which will fly it to Tokyo.

The move to Atlanta, he added, will require expedited special permits from Georgia's Department of Transportation, because of the weight of the equipment. If all goes well, the pump will be en route to Japan next week.

According to Putzmeister's Web site, four smaller pumps made by the company are already at work at Fukushima pumping water onto the overheated reactors.

Initially, the pump from Savannah River Site, and another 70-meter Putzmeister now at a construction site in California, will be used to pump water -- and later will be used to move concrete.

"Our understanding is, they are preparing to go to next phase and it will require a lot of concrete," Ashmore said, noting that the 70-meter pump can move 210 cubic yards of concrete per hour.

Putzmeister equipment was also used in the 1980s, when massive amounts of concrete were used to entomb the melted core of the reactor at Chernobyl.

In addition to the equipment now at Fukushima and the two 70-meter pumps being moved from the U.S., a contractor in Vietnam has given up a 58-meter pump so it can be diverted to Japan, and two 62-meter pumps in Germany were loaded on Wednesday for transport to Tokyo.

Ashmore said officials have already notified Shaw AREVA MOX Services, which is building the MOX plant for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, that the pump was being moved and will not be returned because it will become contaminated by radiation.

"It will be too hot to come back," Ashmore said.

The MOX complex, scheduled to open in 2016, is designed to dispose of 32 metric tons of plutonium from dismantled nuclear bombs by blending small amounts of the material with uranium to make nuclear fuel for commercial power reactors. Its design calls for 170,000 cubic yards of concrete strengthened with 35,000 tons of reinforcing steel bars.

The absence of the pump will not affect the U.S. project's construction schedule, Ashmore said, noting that there are several slightly smaller units still at the MOX site and being used by the civil contractor, Alberici Constructors.

There is also the third existing 70-meter Putzmeister that is in the U.S., but not in a state where it could easily be retrofitted for shipment to Japan.

"We may try to buy that one later if we need to," he said.

Comments (13) Add comment
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Chillen
17
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Chillen 03/31/11 - 01:36 pm
0
0
I'm glad we can help. They

I'm glad we can help. They sure need it. I hope we don't need it while it's gone.

onlysane1left
216
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onlysane1left 03/31/11 - 02:13 pm
0
0
Agreed, Chillen, my worry is

Agreed, Chillen, my worry is about contamination of this equipment while in Japan.

Batman
18
Points
Batman 04/01/11 - 10:32 pm
0
0
I'm happy we can help too.

I'm happy we can help too.

emergencyfan
0
Points
emergencyfan 03/31/11 - 04:08 pm
0
0
onlysane, "Ashmore

onlysane,

"Ashmore officials have already notified Shaw AREVA MOX Services...that the pump was being moved and will not be returned. “It will be too hot to come back,” Ashmore said."

KSL
120867
Points
KSL 03/31/11 - 05:07 pm
0
0
emergencyfan, isn't it

emergencyfan, isn't it amazing that people don't seem to read articles carefully?

DontTazeMeBro
1
Points
DontTazeMeBro 03/31/11 - 07:56 pm
0
0
This page made the Drudge

This page made the Drudge Report headline!

epittman
0
Points
epittman 03/31/11 - 08:17 pm
0
0
I am surprised GE doesn't Pay

I am surprised GE doesn't Pay for the move. There is no telling how many Tax breaks they could get for paying for their own mistake.

puddeecat
0
Points
puddeecat 03/31/11 - 10:17 pm
0
0
This article did make the

This article did make the Drudge Report..awesome! What is sad is that the servers at the Chronicle cannot handle the traffic. This site is so slow. Maybe now they will realize their need for increased server capacity.

chaslaw
1
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chaslaw 04/01/11 - 11:46 am
0
0
This is a great story, but a

This is a great story, but a few more details would be nice. What's this pump worth? Does the pump actually belong to Ashmore? If so, is this an outright gift on the part of Ashmore, or is he being compensated? Either way, it's a generous thing to do.

(As an aside, if I were 15 years old, I think "putzmeister" would become my favorite affectionate insult, as in, "You putzmeister, don't you know you can't put a spoon in the microwave?")

bdouglas
4394
Points
bdouglas 04/01/11 - 02:49 pm
0
0
If you think for a second

If you think for a second he's "giving" this to Japan out of the goodness of his heart or something, I've got some oceanfront property in North Augusta I'd like to sell you. You can bet that he's being compensated quite well for it, and probably more than he paid for it. You don't just "give away" something like that when there's only 3 of them in the world.

lieutenantkitten
14
Points
lieutenantkitten 04/01/11 - 03:33 pm
0
0
Bdouglas, I think your

Bdouglas, I think your oceanfront property in North Augusta (I had no idea the Ocean was so close!) is completely different than a machine that can stop a Chernobyl disaster. Why would anyone keep something that can stop that all to themselves? He may not be "giving it away" but you seem to make sound as if he is going to be making money off of this transaction.

AutumnLeaves
5923
Points
AutumnLeaves 04/01/11 - 04:07 pm
0
0
I don't really care about

I don't really care about whether or not any money is being made off the pump being used there. The main thing is, it might just minimize what could be a much worse scenario than has already occurred. I had been praying for this. Chernobyl had to do something similar and I couldn't think of a way for us to help Japan do this. I hope it works and am glad SRS is helping, whether they are compensated or not. If it works, we'll be compensated in much less of a disaster than it could turn out to be if we don't try to help.

hddragracer
0
Points
hddragracer 04/01/11 - 11:24 pm
0
0
I am assuming someone already

I am assuming someone already KNEW this was an option, so what the heck were they waiting for? WHY wait weeks when this could-have-been, and perhaps SHOULD-have-been done a day after this occurred!? Are they waiting for MORE explosions?

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