GE's Immelt defends nuclear industry safety record

TOKYO Mon Apr 4, 2011 7:34am EDT

General Electric Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Jeffrey Immelt (C) and Hitachi President Hiroaki Nakanishi are surrounded by the media after their meeting with Japan's Trade Minister Banri Kaieda in Tokyo April 4, 2011. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

General Electric Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Jeffrey Immelt (C) and Hitachi President Hiroaki Nakanishi are surrounded by the media after their meeting with Japan's Trade Minister Banri Kaieda in Tokyo April 4, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

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TOKYO (Reuters) - General Electric Co (GE.N) Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt defended the nuclear industry's safety record on Monday during a trip to Tokyo to show support to the operator of a stricken nuclear plant using reactors designed by the U.S. conglomerate.

Immelt met with executives at Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) (9501.T), operator of the Fukushima power plant that was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and is leaking radiation in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

GE and its nuclear business partner Hitachi Ltd (6501.T) have sent over 1,000 workers to help with the so far unsuccessful efforts to get the plant under control.

"We have more than 1,000 engineers who have worked around the clock since the incident began and we will continue short-term, medium-term and long-term work with TEPCO due to this horrific national disaster," Immelt told reporters after a meeting with Japan's trade minister.

"But this is an industry that operated effectively for 40 years. And that's my expectation," he said.

A GE Japan spokeswoman later told Reuters that Immelt excluded the Chernobyl incident when referring to the industry's safety record over the past four decades because it did not involve facilities designed by Western or Japanese firms.

General Electric is preparing to ship more than 20 gas turbines to Japan to help ease an electricity shortage triggered by the March 11 disaster, which knocked out about one-fifth of TEPCO's generating capacity, the spokeswoman said.

Immelt said GE would donate up to $10 million to Japan for humanitarian support. The earthquake left nearly 28,000 people dead or missing.

GE wholly built one of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. It constructed two others jointly with Toshiba Corp (6502.T). Toshiba built two on its own and Hitachi made one.

Anne Lauvergeon, the head of French nuclear reactor maker Areva CEPFi.PA was in Tokyo last week. She promised the company would send about 20 experts and provide technical and material assistance to help deal with the crisis.

(Reporting by Taiga Uranaka and Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Nathan Layne and Joseph Radford)

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Comments (10)
Kevin117 wrote:
Then build a nuclear plant in Washington DC.

Apr 04, 2011 8:21am EDT  --  Report as abuse
OldWarDog wrote:
Jeffrey “Immelt” defends the nuclear industry’s safety record. . . . Well, at least the symbolic irony is rising to the surface.

Apr 04, 2011 8:33am EDT  --  Report as abuse
timbuckto wrote:
Maybe one of thoughs engineers could tell us what the half life of the Uber radioactive water is?(that they are letting flow into the ocean and ground water)That would help us determine if they are saving a dollar a gallon or a $100 a gallon by not containing and “safely” storing it.The guy responsible for not controling the water will get a big bonus. The atomic energy “Leaders” and our Government will tell us what a fine job they are doing.The Media will fail us and “Life goes on”.

Apr 04, 2011 9:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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