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Putzmeister Boom Pumps Help Cool Fukushima Daiichi Plant Reactors

The Putzmeister subsidiary in Japan supplied the 58-Meter boom pump to Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which was the first to arrive at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

A team of experienced Putzmeister personnel undertook the preparation work on the boom pumps in both California and South Carolina.

Prepping of each pump included complete maintenance and testing of the pump and boom systems, replacing wear parts and switching in new boom pipe.

One of the 70Zs being loaded onto a Russian Antonov AN-124 cargo jet at the Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport before departing for Japan.

The two 70Zs at the local Putzmeister subsidiary in Chiba, just east of Tokyo.

One of the two 62-Meters pumping fresh water on the reactor.

Putzmeister Boom Pumps Help Cool Fukushima Daiichi Plant Reactors

STURTEVANT, WI (May 23, 2011) – Putzmeister America, along with its parent company, Putzmeister Concrete Pumps GmbH (PCP), and the Putzmeister subsidiary in Japan, worked together as part of a global effort to help contain the damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March.

As a group Putzmeister worked to send two 70Z-Meter concrete boom pumps – the world’s largest, and two 62-Meter concrete boom pumps, to join a 58-Meter already pumping water to cool Fukushima’s nuclear reactor No. 4. The two 70Zs were sent from America, and the two 62Ms were sent from Germany.

The Idea
The initial idea to use truck-mounted concrete boom pumps to cool the reactor was spearheaded by Hiroshi Suzuki, the head of the Putzmeister subsidiary in Japan. On March 15, Suzuki submitted vital information to Japan’s prime minister’s office about the boom pump’s capabilities and how they could help cool down the reactors. Two days later, an emergency order was given to bring ashore a Putzmeister 58-Meter boom pump that had been en route to a customer in Vietnam.

The boom pump arrived at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 22, after operators received one day’s training by Suzuki. The boom pump immediately went to work pumping seawater into the reactor’s spent-fuel pool, aiding in the cooling effort.

Upon seeing successful results, Putzmeister put together a proposal for the four additional boom pumps which Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the plant, accepted.

“Like many people all over the world, our thoughts have been with the people of Japan as they deal with this unprecedented crisis,” says Dave Adams, President and CEO of Putzmeister America. “Fortunately, we have equipment that can help cool Japan’s nuclear reactors so we, along with Putzmeister Japan and PCP, moved full speed ahead to get additional pumps to Japan to help sustain the effort.”

Why the Idea Works
“Putzmeister concrete boom pumps were the ideal solution in helping to battle this catastrophe because of the pin-point accuracy of each unit’s boom,” says Adams.

The three different boom pump configurations not only offer the long reaches required, but the boom arm articulation has the necessary maneuverability. This combination results in the precise application of water.

Additionally, each boom pump’s output is 209 cubic yards per hour (160m3) - equivalent to approximately 42,000 gallons per hour (160,000 liters per hour) of water. In comparison, a standard fire truck’s water output averages approximately 16,000 gallons per hour (60,000 liters per hour).

Getting the Pumps to Japan
Two Putzmeister America customers – Mike Parigini of Associated Concrete Pumping in Sacramento, California, and Jerry Ashmore of Ashmore Concrete Contractors, Inc. in Evans, Georgia – recognized their 70Z-Meter concrete boom pumps had the capabilities needed for the cooling operations and without hesitation offered the pumps to be available.

A team of experienced Putzmeister personnel undertook the preparation work on the boom pumps in both California and South Carolina. This included Alan Woods, Field Service Technician; Gary Schmidt, Southwest Regional Sales Manager and Travis Nonn, Field Service Technician.

The two 70Z boom pumps from the U.S. departed on April 9 for Japan on two Russian Antonov AN-124 cargo jets, among the world's largest aircraft.

Adams, Nonn, Woods, and Schmidt accompanied the pumps to the local Putzmeister subsidiary in Chiba, just east of Tokyo. Once there, they provided operation and maintenance training to the power plant operators to ensure they were comfortable operating the massive boom pumps.

The two 62-Meters from PCP were flown to Japan on Russian Antonov AN-124 cargo jets as well. The first of the two arrived in Japan on April 1, and was outfitted with a camera, sensor and water sampling tool which allowed TEPCO their first view inside the nuclear reactors and vital sampling of the water pooling up in the reactor. It has since replaced the 58-Meter and is now pumping fresh water on the reactor. The second 62 has also been outfitted with cameras and was delivered to the power plant on May 16.

“Although the initial intended use for all of the Putzmeister boom pumps is to spray water to cool the reactors, it is possible the pumps may be also used, should the need arise, to entomb the reactors in concrete,” says Adams.

Experience in Crisis Situations
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.

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 Putzmeister America, Inc. manufactures a complete line of truck-mounted concrete boom pumps, separate placing booms, truck-mounted telescopic belt conveyors, ready mix trucks and trailer-mounted concrete pumps as well as mortar, grout, shotcrete, plaster and fireproofing pumps and mixers, industrial pumps, tunneling machinery and pipeline systems. Some of the industry’s best known brands, such as Telebelt®, Thom-Katt®, and Tommy Gun®, are part of the Putzmeister America family. The company’s workforce is dedicated to hands-on customer support and advancing the industry in design and technical innovation.

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