GE Says Nuclear Industry Has 'Safe' Record

'This is an industry that's had an extremely safe track record for more than 40 years,' said GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt.

Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE, which is the manufacturer of reactors at Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, on April 4 said the nuclear industry has had a "safe track record."

Immelt was speaking in Tokyo after meeting Japanese officials, as Tokyo Electric Power continued efforts to resolve a crisis at its stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant where three reactors were built or partly built by GE.

Immelt and Hiroaki Nakanishi, president of GE's nuclear power business partner Hitachi, met Japanese industry minister Banri Kaieda to discuss the situation at the site of the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

More than three weeks on from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi remains unresolved after its reactor cooling systems were knocked out, triggering explosions, fires and releasing radiation.

"This is an industry that's had an extremely safe track record for more than 40 years," said Immelt. "We will continue in the short, medium and long term to work with TEPCO due to this horrific disaster."

GE built the plant's 40-year old number one reactor and co-built reactors two and six with Toshiba. Toshiba built reactors three and five, and Hitachi built reactor number four.

When asked about potential liability as the manufacturer of some of the crippled reactors at the plant, Hitachi's Nakanishi replied: "The work we are doing now is meant to fulfill such a responsibility."

Radiation from the plant northeast of Tokyo has wafted into the air, contaminating farm produce and drinking water, and seeped into the Pacific Ocean, although officials stress there is no imminent health threat.

Some analysts estimate TEPCO could face compensation claims of more than 10 trillion yen (US$120 billion.)

Immelt added that GE was shipping over gas turbines to help TEPCO alleviate its supply crunch issues after facilities were damaged in the quake.

One of the world's biggest power companies, TEPCO boasts 44.6 million customers -- more than one third of the population of Japan -- in the Kanto region of the main island of Honshu, including Tokyo.

A trade ministry official said that Goshi Hosono, adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan, also attended the meeting. "Hosono told them that restoring the cooling systems is the challenge that needs to be most urgently addressed." The official declined to comment further on what kind of assistance GE and Hitachi have offered.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

See Also

Japan Quake Setback to Global Nuclear Industry

After Japan 'Apocalypse', EU Agrees Nuclear 'Stress Tests'

U.S. Still Wants to Expand Nuclear Energy Says Chu

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