Germany offers Japan robots for nuclear clean-up

BERLIN, March 30 Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:11pm EDT

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BERLIN, March 30 (Reuters) - Japan has been offered German remote-controlled robots to help clean up and repair damage at its Fukushima nuclear reactors, which are leaking radiation after being hit by an earthquake and tsunami.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan "to make available special radio-controlled equipment from Germany that can be used for cleanup and repairs of reactors," her spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

Japan was considering the offer, the statement said on Wednesday. A government spokesman could not immediately verify which devices could be sent.

Operators are struggling to regain control of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactors, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, where radiation continues to leak and health dangers may rise as radioactive elements increasingly surface outside the buildings.

It could take weeks or months of work under extremely dangerous conditions to re-start the cooling systems vital to control the reactors and avert a disastrous total meltdown.

The United States has already agreed to send some radiation-detecting robots to help explore the reactor cores and spent fuel pools at the stricken nuclear complex.

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