France rushes radiation dampening chemical to Japan
France on Thursday sent a plane carrying some 100 tonnes of boric acid, an element that dampens radiation, to help Japan tackle the crisis at the Fukushima plant, the foreign ministry said.
"French nuclear group Areva and (electricity supplier) EDF flew this morning a plane with almost 100 tonnes of boric acid and protective equipment including 10,000 suits, 20,000 pairs of gloves and 3,000 masks," the ministry said.
"EDF is also preparing to send teams and material to help Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), which runs the stricken nuclear power plant at Fukushima," it added.
French Energy Minister Eric Besson said earlier France had offered the element, which absorbs neutrons, on Saturday, the day after Japan's biggest earthquake on record struck but "either they didn't think it was useful or they didn't have the time to reply."
Japanese military helicopters were on Thursday dumping tonnes of water onto the Fukushima plant in a bid to cover nuclear fuel rods stored in a deep tank.
Water levels in the pool have fallen to dangerous levels through evaporation, exposing the fuel rods to the risk of a temperature rise that could cause them to catch fire.
The French government has also offered to help treat in France any Japanese who might be affected by radiation poisoning should Japanese facilities become unable to cope, Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.
© 2011 AFP