TOKYO (Reuters) - General Electric Co Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt defended the nuclear industry's safety record on Monday during a trip to Tokyo to show his 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 in Tokyo after a meeting with Japan's trade minister.
"But this is an industry that operated effectively for 40 years. And that's my expectation."
Immelt also said General Electric was preparing to ship gas turbines to Japan to help ease an electricity shortage triggered after the March 11 disaster knocked out power plants.
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 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)