Race to repair Japan’s asbestos water pipes

The nuclear disaster in Japan may have dominated global headlines but work to repair the country's running water infrastructure has continued throughout the past few weeks.

Water pipelines in Japans rural areas, used to water rice paddies at this time of year, have been devastated by the accident and many of them contain the potentially lethal material asbestos.

UK based Viking Johnson, a firm which supplied equipment to New Zealand’s water companies in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, has been working with Japan’s utilities.

In flat areas, like the coast of Sendai city, 70% of the tsunami salt water still remains on farmland.

While estimate believe 8% of Japan’s 4 million acres of rice farms have been hit, affecting about 4% of total production.

Using its UltraGrip Viking Johnson is working with Japanese water companies to repair pipework and restore water needed to irrigate rice fields.

The Ultragrip, which can also be used to repair leaking gas pipes, is attached to broken pipes and is simple long term fix.

A spokesman for the company said: “In Japan, rice pads are dry in winter and have to be watered again in spring.

“The fields require water continuously from planting until harvest time, many asbestos pipelines are used which have been badly damaged by the earthquake UltraGrip has been the ideal solution to repair these broken pipes.”

Viking Johnson parent company Crane, through the Crane Fund for Widows and Children, has donated $35,000 to The American Red Cross Japan Earthquake & Pacific Tsunami Disaster Relief.

Luke Walsh

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