Friday, April 01, 2011

A Big Pump: The Japanese Need It Worse Than We Do

pump truck Generosity, American style:

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.


“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.

Apparently, only two of these pumps exist – the other is in California – and both are going to Japan.

"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.

I hadn’t read this anywhere else – the pumps can be used for water, too – so Ashmore may be guessing, but that’s okay. He’s allowed.

I should mention that the pumps are German-made and will be transported over to Japan on a special-use Russian plane. A real hands across the water effort.


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has named six senior managers and staff to its task force for examining the agency’s regulatory requirements, programs, processes, and implementation in light of information from the Fukushima Daiichi site in Japan, following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Here’s what the task force will do, according to the NRC:

“The task force will talk to agency technical experts and gather information to conduct a comprehensive review of the information from the events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex and make recommendations for any improvements needed to our regulatory system,” Miller said. “We plan to provide our observations, conclusions and recommendations in a written report that will be made public approximately 90 days after we start our review.”

That’s moving very fast. Miller is Charles Miller, director of the NRC’s Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management Programs. The other task force members are from different divisions of the NRC.

A little more:

Areas to be reviewed include station blackout (loss of all A/C power for a reactor), external events that could lead to a prolonged loss of cooling, plant capabilities for preventing or dealing with such circumstances, and emergency preparedness.

The result of this work should be very interesting, though I wonder if the NRC is making informed conclusions about what happened at Fukushima Daiichi or believes enough is known now to do this in an effective way – maybe both.

In any event, recommendations will be offered on July 19. Mark it on your calendar.

When you need a reallly big pump.

1 comment:

jimwg said...

Just asking, but surely there must be crane-type "bucket" conveyor belts as I've seen spanning long distances in gravel pits and flour plants that could roughly do the same thing already in Japan?

James Greenidge