Mitsubishi delivers first radiation-shielded cabin forklifts

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd has developed two special heavy-duty forklifts with radiation-shielded cabins to help handle and dispose of contaminated rubble at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, following Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.

June 20, 2011
Sandy MacIsaac


The first of the two units were being delivered in the first week of May to a joint venture formed by Taisei Corporation, Kajima Corporation and Shimizu Corporation that is handling the clean up at the site, with the second unit to follow later in May.

The forklift was developed and manufactured within one month, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries incorporated its vehicle systems, filtering, heavy plate welding and radiation shielding and management into the new unit based on the company’s heavy-duty forklift. The new forklifts will allow workers to handle rubble while creating a safer environment for the machine operator in areas exposed to radiation.

The forklift has a fully sealed cabin constructed using 100mm-thick steel plates and 230mm-thick lead glass, with all sides welded to enable the operator to maneuver with maximum shielding. The forklifts are equipped with filters that remove dust and other radiation-contaminated material, giving a supply of purified air. The air-conditioned cabin is pressurized by an air purifier to prevent external air from entering.

Each forklift is 7.3m long, 2.5m wide and 3.9m high, weighs 30 tons and has a load capacity of 9,000kg. The forklifts will be supplied with various attachments including hinged forks, bucket, box clamp and pivoting fork. The forklift will allow transfer and placement of rubble into low-level radioactive waste transfer containers. b2b