Bechtel Innovation and Global Resources Used in Japanese Crisis Response

16 March 2011

Bechtel, along with multiple government agencies and suppliers, worked non-stop to design and build a temporary cooling system to address the unprecedented situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The system went from conceptual design to on-site delivery in just six days.

Rapid Response

Bechtel immediately offered its assistance to the United States and Japanese Governments following the earthquake and tsunami. As events unfolded an offer was also extended to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which was providing support managing the situation at Japan’s nuclear power plant. NRC engineers drafted a conceptual design for a system to cool the plant’s spent nuclear rods amid growing concerns that the pools containing the spent fuel were running dry and releasing radiation.

On March 16, 2011, the NRC asked for Bechtel’s assistance advancing the design. Within 72 hours, a Bechtel team of employees around the world completed the design for a high-pressure water pumping system to cool the rods, and identified and secured materials from across its global supply chain needed to build the system.

Bechtel performed the work pro bono and secured the materials at cost.

The system was assembled in Australia, and transported to Japan, where it arrived on March 21, 2011. 

"This was a collaborative effort on every level, from design to delivery," said Carl Rau, president of Bechtel’s nuclear power division. "We immediately offered our expertise and global resources because we wanted to help the people of Japan. However, turning that offer into something tangible was the result of innovative thinking, collaboration, and determination among the multiple government agencies and suppliers involved."

Following training by Bechtel suppliers on how to operate the equipment, the system was turned over to the Tokyo Electric Power Company.

In addition, Bechtel is donating $100,000 to the International Response Fund of the American Red Cross. This nonprofit is partnering with the Japanese Red Cross to provide food, shelter, and medical services to the victims of the natural disasters. Bechtel employees are also participating in a special campaign fund in which the company will match employee donations to the relief effort.