Subscribe options

Select your newsletters:


Please enter your email address:

@

News & Media

Latest ITER Newsline

  • Rendezvous | D and T to meet at JET in 2020

    In 2020, for the first time in more than 20 years, a reaction that only occurs in the core of the stars will be produced on Earth in a man-made machine. In the [...]

    Read more

  • On site | MOMENTUM believes in recent graduates

    It is rare for students to leave university and immediately begin work on a globally significant project. But thanks to the graduate program run by the project' [...]

    Read more

  • Tokamak Pit | Big steel elbow in place

    A cryostat feedthrough delivered by the Chinese Domestic Agency has become the first metal component of the machine to be installed in the Tokamak Pit, in an op [...]

    Read more

  • Neutral beam source | Europe awards EUR 20 million contract

    The contract, awarded to ALSYOM-SEIV (ALCEN group, France), launches the manufacturing phase for the beam source that will come on line in 2022 as part of the f [...]

    Read more

  • Image of the week | US Under Secretary of Science tours site

    Five months, almost to the day, after the US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry visited ITER, his deputy, Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar, stood by the same [...]

    Read more

Of Interest

See archived entries

Rider in the storm

The safest place to be when lightning strikes a crane is ... in the crane's cabin itself.
 
And that's precisely where M'hamed Harit was, last Tuesday 9 June at 3:37 p.m., when a monster bolt not only hit crane #2 but also passed through its metal structure like a stitching needle ... three times in a fraction of a second.

At 3:37 p.m. on Tuesday 9 June, a monster bolt hit crane #2. In his cabin, veteran operator M'hamed Harit said it felt like being ''caught between bombs and a mega fireworks display.'' Graeme Vine, from the ITER vacuum team, took this exceptionally well-timed picture from his third floor office. (Click to view larger version...)
At 3:37 p.m. on Tuesday 9 June, a monster bolt hit crane #2. In his cabin, veteran operator M'hamed Harit said it felt like being ''caught between bombs and a mega fireworks display.'' Graeme Vine, from the ITER vacuum team, took this exceptionally well-timed picture from his third floor office.
Like his colleagues in the other cranes on site, M'hamed Harit, a crane operator for 30 years, was where he was supposed to be. When an "orange alert" is sounded to signal the approach of a storm, the instructions are clear: operators must remain in their cabin, which acts as an insulated Faraday cage protecting them from the electrical discharges of the lightning bolts.

"I've sat in my cabin through many a storm," says M'hamed, "but that one was the worst I ever experienced. The thunderclaps were so loud, the lightning bolts so bright, that I felt like I was caught between bombs and a mega fireworks display." Was he frightened? "Yes, I must say I was. I pulled down the curtains and took refuge in a small, windowless recess at the back of the cabin."

The orange alert had sounded at 2:08 p.m. and was upgraded to red at 2:29 p.m. The storm reached a peak about an hour later, when Graeme Vine, from the ITER vacuum team, took this exceptionally well-timed picture from his third floor office. By 5:24 p.m. the red alert was lifted and crane operators were contacted on their personal cell phones—as most of the equipment (including radios and the lifts) had been knocked out by the electrical storm.

It was past 6:00 p.m. when M'hamed eventually made it to the ground. "I was still a bit apprehensive. It usually takes me 15 minutes to climb down the crane's ladder when I don't take the lift. This time, I think I made it in 5 minutes flat..."

The cranes  were back to functioning normally two days after the storm, thanks to the materials service of the VFR consortium, which was able to intervene rapidly.


return to the latest published articles