Telstar Logistics has always been a fan of Putzmeister. The company, based in Germany, is the world's leading manufacturer of mobile concrete pumping equipment used in the construction industry. That's very cool, but as an added bonus, the name Putzmeister is absolutely hilarious if know know a little bit of Yiddish. (We even bought a safety-orange Putzmeister t-shirt from the company's online store a few years ago.)
Schoolyard giggles aside, however, it turns out that a Putzmeister may be one of the most important pieces of equipment available to help bring Japan's Fukushima nuclear crisis under control -- both as firefighting apparatus and as a tool to build new concrete containment facilities.
The Charleson, South Carolina Post and Courier reports:
Only three truck-mounted pumps in the world rise high enough to hose water on the overheating, radioactive reactors in Japan. One of them, it turns out, was in Summerville [South Carolina].
That's why sometime this week a tractor-trailer rig with 10 axles will lumber its way down Interstate 26 hauling more than 80 tons of a device that looks like a huge, folded-up steel girder. The truck is bound for Atlanta, where it will be loaded on the largest cargo plane in the world, scheduled to be flown out Saturday.
It's not the first rescue work for this pump. The devices are built to pour concrete, and this one was bought by a Georgia company to pour concrete for casks at the mixed oxide fuel plant at the Savannah River Site in Barnwell. A shorter version of the pump by the same manufacturer poured concrete for the towers of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.
The pump extends to a length more than two-thirds of a football field, but can be folded up to about the length of most tractor-trailers. The problem is the weight. At 170,000 pounds, the rig is double the weight allowed over the road without special permits. [...]
The pump is one of two that will be flown to Japan aboard Russian-made Antonov AN-225 Mriya Super Heavy Transport planes, the world's largest aircraft.
The other pump is in California. The planes were designed to transport the Russian Space Shuttle, said [Putzmeister marketing services manager Kelly Blickle]. The rigs are being moved to pump water, but if a decision is made to encase a reactor in concrete -- similar to a method used in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster -- they could do that, too, she said.
Putzmeister, meet Antonov:
Turns out, even before the super-big pumps arrive, some smaller Putzmeisters are already hard at work in Japan:
You can see it in at work on the right side of this late-March aerial photo of the No. 4 reactor at Fukishima:
First came ineffective drops by helicopter, next was spraying from fire trucks. The situation was brought closer to control with the arrival of Hyper Rescue and Super Pump Truck from the Tokyo Fire Department, but it was an extra-large concrete pumping machine that has been most effective, particularly at unit 4 where steelwork obstructs spraying from the ground.
The machine already on-site is a Putzmeister 58, named after the length of its boom in metres, supplied to Tepco on the initiative of Hiroshi Suzuki, director of Putzmeister Japan. It is able to pump up to 120 cubic metres of seawater per hour with fairly high precision thanks to a flexible boom. In earlier phases of the Fukushima accident, the ability to control the pumps remotely was a great help in reducing radiation doses to workers.
The site will soon receive delivery of two 62 metre units that were available from a Putzmeister factory in Germany and as well as two 70 metre units from the USA.
This video shows the Putzmeister 58 in action at Fukushima:
HAT TIP: Lt. Diiulio