Japan asks French nuclear sector for help

PARIS (Reuters) – Japan has asked the French nuclear sector for help in dealing with the Fukushima nuclear plant for the first time since disaster struck earlier this month, French Energy Minister Eric Besson said on Monday.

This reflects growing unease about efforts by the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) to control the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi complex after it was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami.

“Japan explicitly asked EDF, Areva and France’s nuclear research body (CEA) to help them,” Besson said adding this was the first time Japan had done so.

A spokesman for state-owned nuclear maker Areva said the company was studying the request but nothing was yet concrete.

“French companies have exchanges with Japan’s Tepco and provide technical expertise on a regular basis,” a separate spokeswoman for Areva said.

Areva and EDF provided Japan earlier this month with masks, overall suits and boric acid as well as water, soup, blankets, power generators, pumps and trucks, the spokesman said.

(Reporting by Benjamin Mallet; Editing by Jane Baird)

Japan asks French nuclear sector for help