As Tokyo Electric Power Co. on April 17 released its plans to bring its Fukushiyma Daiichi reactors under control and protect the area from radiation, U.S. engineering and construction companies are working with Japanese partners to help TEPCO deal with the immediate problems and craft a long-term solution for the damaged plant.

TEPCO's nine-month plan sets goals: to maintain the cooling of the reactors, install storage and decontamination facilities, remove debris, install a concrete cover over the damaged reactors and solidify the contaminated soil. San Francisco-based Bechtel, Charlotte, N.C.-based Babcock & Wilcox, and Baton Rouge, La.-based The Shaw Group, all with nuclear cleanup experience, have been consulting with their partners and TEPCO since March 11.

The U.S. companies have disaster-response, cleanup and radiation equipment that simply isn't available in Japan, said Jeff Merrifield, a senior vice president for Shaw and a former commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Shaw Group, Babcock & Wilcox and Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Nuclear are working with Toshiba and have provided the Japanese utility with radiation detection equipment and a robotic helicopter to survey damage, he said.

Bechtel is working with Hitatchi, which, along with General Electric and Chicago-based Exelon, is providing 1,000 people to support TEPCO. Michelle Allen, a Bechtel spokeswoman, says the company has been providing nuclear decontamination and decommissioning advice. “We are discussing the path forward … over the long term.”

The team has “complementary skills,” says Robert S. Cochran, president of Babcock & Wilcox's technical group, who himself has spent more than two weeks in Japan helping to lend B&W's expertise.

The TEPCO plan echoes many of the recommendations the team has made on how immediate concerns should be handled, Cochran says. “They are doing as good a job as humanly possible, not relying only [on the team] but companies and countries around the world,” he said.