Mitsubishi Heavy develops worlds first forklift with a radiation-proof cabin

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd has developed a special heavy-duty forklift featuring a cabin that shields against radiation, for safer handling of contaminated rubble near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will deliver two of the special forklifts, which is the worlds first with a cabin that shields against radiation, in May to a consortium of major construction companies that will undertake the disposal of rubble at the radiation-leaking plant in Fukushima Prefecture. The special forklifts have been developed and manufactured in a very short period of one month. The new forklift has a fully sealed cabin constructed using 100 millimeter (mm) thick steel plates and 230mm thick lead glass, with all sides welded to enable the operator to maneuver the forklift with maximum shielding against radiation. The heavy-duty forklifts are also to be equipped with special filters that remove dust and other radiation-contaminated material, thereby enabling a stable supply of purified air.

The air-conditioned cabin is also pressurized by air purifier to prevent external air from entering. Each forklift measures 7.3 meters (m) in length, 2.5m in width and 3.9m in height, weighs 30 tons, and has a load capacity of 9,000 kilograms. The forklifts will be supplied with various attachments including hinged forks, bucket, box clamp and pivoting fork. Using these attachments, the forklift will enable efficient transfer and placement of rubble into low-level radioactive waste transfer containers.