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Japanese earthquake - Mitsubishi Heavy to deliver special heavy duty forklifts to TEPCO

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Limited has developed a special heavy duty forklift featuring a cabin that shields against radiation, for safer handling of contaminated rubble near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company, Incorporated.

Two units of the forklift are to be delivered to a JV formed by Taisei Corporation, Kajima Corporation and Shimizu Corporation that is handling the contaminated rubble at the site. The first and second units of the forklift are slated for delivery on May 2nd 2011 and May 20th 2011, respectively.

MHI, leveraging its diverse technologies in both special vehicles and nuclear power plants, has newly developed a forklift able to efficiently handle rubble while simultaneously securing a safer environment for the machine operator in areas exposed to radiation. The company looks for the forklift to contribute both to enhanced efficiency in rubble treatment operations, complementing the work currently being conducted using unmanned radio controlled heavy equipment, and to early improvement of the environment surrounding the nuclear power plant buildings.

The special forklifts have been developed and manufactured in a very short period of one month. During this time MHI has fully incorporated its diversified accumulated expertise in vehicle systems, filtering, heavy plate welding, and radiation shielding and management into the new unit based on the company's 15 tonne heavy duty forklift. The new forklift has a fully sealed cabin constructed using 100 millimeter thick steel plates and 230mm thick lead glass, with all sides welded to enable the operator to maneuver the forklift with maximum shielding against radiation. Prior to delivery, MHI will verify the radiation shield capability using the company's radiation testing facility.

The heavy duty forklifts are also to be equipped with special filters that remove dust and other radiation contaminated material, thereby enabling a stable supply of purified air. The air conditioned cabin is also pressurized by air purifier to prevent external air from entering.

Each forklift measures 7.3 meters in length, 2.5 meters in width and 3.9 meters in height, weighs 30 tonnes and has a load capacity of 9,000 kilograms. The forklifts will be supplied with various attachments including hinged forks, bucket, box clamp and pivoting fork. Using these attachments, the forklift will enable efficient transfer and placement of rubble into low level radioactive waste transfer containers.

Starting immediately after the earthquake, MHI began providing relief to the affected regions in various ways. For example, the company dispatched engineers to help achieve quick restoration of operations at thermal power plants damaged in the quake. It has also sent emergency supplies to the disaster areas using company helicopters and airplanes. In conjunction with the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, MHI has cooperated in conversion work to the Mega Float provided by Shizuoka City to TEPCO to store large volumes of contaminated water. Going forward, besides continuing the foregoing support initiatives, the company will do everything possible to achieve stable supplies of necessary products for achieving recovery, including stand alone power generators.

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