France sends nuclear experts to Japan; but robots refused

France’s nuclear company Areva has sent two experts to Japan to support TEPCO’s efforts in the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima. The experts, who are going at the request of Tokyo Electric Power Co, are specialized in “dismantling” and “clean-up” of nuclear power plants, according to today’s Le Figaro. However, the standing offer to send robots to operate in areas where humans cannot has so far been refused by the Japanese company, and the robots are still parked at Chateauroux airport in France.
nb Tepco did not apparently refuse the 100 tons of boric acid, 3000 masks, 10,000 radiation suits, 20 000 gloves sent by Areva / EDF on the 17/18th March.

Areva is commissioned by Japanese power companies to process uranium-plutonium mixed-oxide fuel, so-called MOX fuel. MOX fuel used at the No. 3 reactor unit at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was shipped from France in 1999.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is up for re-election in 2012 and faring badly at the polls, announced this week that he would visit Japan on Thursday, making him the first foreign leader to visit the country since the nuclear disaster began. The domestic context for Sarkozy is dire: his prime minister broke ranks with him recently on how to deal with a sudden surge in the far-right at the polls; pollsters forecast that he will not even make it to the second round of next year’s presidential elections in all but one of several scenarios. So he flies off to Japan to declare his solidarity with the Japanese, and to play the role of chief flak for France’s nuclear industry.


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