Chain of Thought

Monster Crane Hits China's Shore This Week

I received a press release last week about a huge crane being shipped to China, and the headline on this blog post is the best I could think of to call your attention to it. Actually, the most interesting part of this announcement isn't in the headline. FESCO Transportation Group, a multimodal transport holding company in Russia, put out the release, announcing it is transporting a 4.1 million pound Lampson Model LTL-2600B Mobile Crawler Crane from the Port of Everett in Kennewick, Washington to the Hunan province in China. The crane is scheduled to arrive in China on April 15th.

Normally this kind of release wouldn't have grabbed my attention, but one sentence buried in the middle of the piece—about what the crane's being used for—did the job:

“It will be discharged in Shanghai to assist in nuclear power plant construction.”

I found it fascinating that while its neighbors in Japan are struggling to deal with the festering remains of their own post earthquake, post-tsunami nuclear power infrastructure that China would be embarking on its own brand new nuclear power facility. China certainly isn't happy with how Japan is handling their situation, especially the fact that they're pumping back into the sea the now contaminated seawater they've been using to cool their reactors.

A recent report in Reuters quoted China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei as saying “"We hope that Japan will act in accordance with international law and adopt effective measures to protect the marine environment. As Japan's neighbor, we naturally express our concern about this. We ask that Japan reports the relevant information to the Chinese side in a swift, comprehensive and accurate way.”

Who knows, maybe as I write this Chinese officials are frantically trying to change the course of the huge ship carrying that huge crane. I wasn't able to get a comment from them for this blog, but Bryan F. Pepin-Donat was nice enough to give me an update. He's director of contracts for international business at Lampson International.

“The issues raised in Japan's Fukishima power plants, due to the devastating effects of the earthquake and the tsunami, will cause a short term review of existing and planned nuclear power plants,” he responded to me. “In the long term nuclear power will be validated as a clean and cost effective method of producing power.”

Until that plant finally does get built in China, I have a suggestion for whoever is taking delivery of that huge crane: why not re-route the ship carrying it to Japan and donate its use to their cleanup effort? Isn't that the kind of thing a good neighbor would do?

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