UPDATE 1-GE’s Immelt defends nuclear industry safety record

* Immelt says nuclear industry has been safe for 40 years

* Says to work with TEPCO to resolve Japan nuclear crisis

* GE: to ship more than 20 gas turbines to help with power
crunch

(Adds GE spokeswoman clarification on safety record remarks)

By Taiga Uranaka

TOKYO, April 4 (Reuters) – General Electric Co Chief
Executive Jeffrey Immelt defended the nuclear industry’s safety
record on Monday during a trip to Tokyo to show support to the
operator of a stricken nuclear plant using reactors designed by
the U.S. conglomerate.

Immelt met with executives at Tokyo Electric Power Co
(TEPCO) , operator of the Fukushima power plant that was
crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and is leaking
radiation in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

GE and its nuclear business partner Hitachi Ltd
have sent over 1,000 workers to help with the so far
unsuccessful efforts to get the plant under control.

“We have more than 1,000 engineers who have worked around
the clock since the incident began and we will continue
short-term, medium-term and long-term work with TEPCO due to
this horrific national disaster,” Immelt told reporters after a
meeting with Japan’s trade minister.

“But this is an industry that operated effectively for 40
years. And that’s my expectation,” he said.

A GE Japan spokeswoman later told Reuters that
Immelt excluded the Chernobyl incident when referring to the
industry’s safety record over the past four decades because it
did not involve facilities designed by Western or Japanese
firms.

General Electric is preparing to ship more than 20 gas
turbines to Japan to help ease an electricity shortage triggered
by the March 11 disaster, which knocked out about one-fifth of
TEPCO’s generating capacity, the spokeswoman said.

Immelt said GE would donate up to $10 million to
Japan for humanitarian support. The earthquake left nearly
28,000 people dead or missing.

GE wholly built one of the six reactors at the Fukushima
Daiichi power plant. It constructed two others jointly with
Toshiba Corp . Toshiba built two on its own and Hitachi
made one.

Anne Lauvergeon, the head of French nuclear reactor maker
Areva (CEPFi.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) was in Tokyo last week. She promised the
company would send about 20 experts and provide technical and
material assistance to help deal with the crisis.

(Reporting by Taiga Uranaka and Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by
Nathan Layne and Joseph Radford)

UPDATE 1-GE’s Immelt defends nuclear industry safety record