H-VANDENBERG AFB

Mar 17, 2011 8:23 PM by Monica Quintero

Diablo Canyon sending boric acid to crippled Japanese plants

It's a huge mission, Diablo Canyon is supplying something critical to help the Japanese cool down its crippled nuclear reactors.

The nuclear power plant is sending tons of boric acid. The boric acid will be used at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant. It absorbs free neutrons and will be used to cool down the damaged reactors in Japan.

It was transported to Vandenberg Air Force Base Wednesday night and the boric acid was loaded up on Thursday to be flown to Japan.

The massive C-17 military plane arrived and Vandenberg was ready to load the critical cargo. Diablo says its sending a total of 17 tons or 34,000 pounds of boric acid. Captain Ryan Oppedal is the lead pilot of this mission.

He said, "We've been sitting in alert status for about 24 hours." Oppedal says the C-17 arrived at Vandenberg from McChord Air Force Base in Washington. A crew of seven officers will be flying to Yokota Air Force Base to make the delivery. That's located about an hour south of Tokyo.

Oppedal said, "When they had the disaster in Haiti as well there were C-17's over there flying in and out of there helping out as well." He goes on to say, "We're just trying to get the supplies there on time to help as much as we can and do our part."

KSBY News also asked the captain if the crew was concerned about the possibility of flying through radioactive air space. He said, "Mission planned it very well and they planned us outside the area they think is the issue."

Major Rich Apple, Commander of the 30th Logistics Readiness Squadrin at Vandenberg, told us about the role Vandenberg played in the mission. He said, "We received the shipment and we prepared it for air transport."

While preparing the boric acid, Vandenberg had international standards to follow which includes sharing critical information with the Defense Transportation System. Apple said, "It's very gratifying. This happens day in, day out all over the world by America's Air Force."

The flight is about thirteen hours long and right now, the crew doesn't know how long it will be in Japan.

A spokesperson for Diablo Canyon wants you to know there is still plenty of boric acid on hand here in the event of any problems at Diablo Canyon.

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