The world's largest concrete pump, previously used at Savannah River Site, made a ponderous journey Monday along Interstate 20 to Atlanta, where it will be airlifted to Japan.
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 battle to stabilize the tsunami-damaged reactors at Japan's Fukushima complex.
Erin Nevicosi, a Putzmeister spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail that the pump owned by Augusta-based Ashmore Concrete Contractors Inc., and a similar one owned by Associated Concrete Pumping in Sacramento, Calif., are both being airlifted to Tokyo later this week.
"They are being flown to Japan via two Russian Antonov AN-225 Mriya Super Heavy Transport planes, the world's largest aircraft, which was initially designed to transport the Russian Space Shuttle," she said.
The pumps are normally used to pour concrete on bridges and high-rise buildings and can also be used to pump water, she said. Several smaller Putzmeister concrete pumps are already at the Fukushima site or en route there.
Ashmore's pump required a special transportation permit because of its size and weight.
Putzmeister has 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," Nevicosi said.
Ashmore had been using the pump at the construction site of the National Nuclear Security Administration's $4.86 billion mixed oxide fuel facility under construction at SRS.
The MOX project is designed to dispose of surplus plutonium from dismantled nuclear warheads by blending it with uranium to make commercial nuclear fuel.
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