Locally based concrete pump arrives in Japan

A 190,000-pound concrete pump once deployed at Savannah River Site arrived safely in Tokyo late Monday night after a flight from Atlanta. The huge device will aid in the nuclear cleanup.

A 190,000-pound concrete pump formerly deployed at Savannah River Site arrived safely in Tokyo late Monday and was escorted to Chiba, Japan, where engineers were being trained to use the device at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

The pump, made by Putzmeister, of Germany, is the largest device of its kind in the world and was in use by Augusta-based Ashmore Concrete Contractors at the construction site of the National Nuclear Security Administration's mixed-oxide fuel plant in South Carolina.

The pump was airlifted from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport aboard a mammoth Antonov cargo plane, which made refueling stops in Seattle; Anchorage, Alaska; and Magadan, Russia, before arriving in Tokyo, said Kelly Blickle, a spokeswoman at Putzmeister America's office in Wisconsin.

"It just arrived, late last night," she said. "Because it was such a heavy load, the plane had to refuel about every five hours."

A similar pump operated by Associated Concrete Pumping, of Sacramento, Calif., also was flown to Japan, and both were moved from the airport to Putzmeister's office in Chiba, where Tokyo Electric Power Co. workers are being trained to use them.

The pumps are used to pour concrete onto bridges and high-rises and can pump water. Several smaller Putzmeister pumps are already at Fukushima.

Company officials were unsure when the pumps would be moved to the damaged reactors.

Putzmeister has 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 that halted the release of radiation.

Japanese officials plan to use the pumps to focus streams of cooling water, but they are capable of pouring concrete if such an option becomes necessary.

Both 70-meter Putzmeister pumps were on long-term leases to their operators, which -- at the company's request -- volunteered to relinquish them to help with the Japan crisis.

Pump en route to Japan today
Concrete pump moves to Atlanta, then Japan
SRS pump will head to Japan