Pride and emotion as CEA-Cadarache turns 50
When Cadarache was officially created, on 14 October 1959, France was already engaged in an ambitious program to develop nuclear energy. Five research centres, each entrusted with a specific mission, had already been established in different regions of the country.
Cadarache's assignment was to implement research programs in view of developing the promising fast-neutron reactors and to develop a submarine reactor destined for France's strategic naval forces.
In the course of half-a-century, this and much more was achieved. Cadarache, with a "population" of some 4,000 engineers, technicians, physicists, biologists, is now "one the three largest nuclear research facilities in the world."
Fission, particularly the development of Generation 4 nuclear reactors, remains Cadarache's core activity. But over the years the Centre's activities have evolved to include research on fusion, biofuels, renewable energies, hydrogen...
So there was pride, last Friday, under the large tent that CEA had installed close to the Jules-Horowitz Reactor work site to celebrate Cadarache's 50th anniversary.
Bernard Bigot, CEA Administrator-General, Christophe Béhar, CEA Director of Nuclear Energy and CEA-Cadarache Director Serge Durand retraced the history of the Centre, its achievements, its challenges for the coming years. "What Cadarache is about," said Bernard Bigot, "is producing innovation."
Emotion reached a high when the clapping and cheering of a standing ovation drowned out the last words of Serge Durand's speech.
Hundreds of people had gathered under the tent: former Cadarache directors and CEA administrators, local authorities and politicians, and of course staff members, present and retired. Bernard Bigot reminded them what General de Gaulle had said when visiting Cadarache in 1963: "I envy those who have the privilege to work here ..."
The birthday cake, though quite large, was a bit too small to be shared by all who attended the party. Symbolically, it was cut by those in the "family" that were born on a 14 October—among them Jean Jacquinot, former head of fusion research at CEA and a member of ITER's Scientific Council as early as 1992.
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