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''ITER has acquired a concrete and spectacular reality,'' said Bernard Bigot in his all-staff address on 21 January 2016. ''This building is ITER. These steel parts are ITER. Most important of all—you are ITER!''
The last time the ITER staff was assembled on the worksite was September 2011, a little more than one year after construction began in earnest. At that time, only one building stood on the platform—the near-finished Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility.
Four years and a few months later work is underway on the second underground level of the Tokamak Complex; the Assembly Hall rises 60 metres above platform level; the Cryoplant, Cleaning Facility, Site Services, Cooling Systems and Control buildings are all at various stages of preparation; and large machine components are already stored in the Cryostat Workshop, ready to be assembled and welded.
The gathering of ITER staff on-site was long overdue. The month of January and its traditional New Year's wishes, and the presence in the vast hall of the Cryostat Workshop of large pieces of steel from the cryostat base, provided the opportunity.
"Look how massive they are—and consider they represent only one-eighth of the total mass of the 3,850-tonne ITER cryostat," said ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot in his address. "Indeed, we are building a big machine..."
There was awe, and there was pride at this vision.
There was awe and pride at the vision of the large pieces of steel for the cyostat base stored in the Cryostat Workshop.
ITER had come a long way since the Geneva Summit 30 years ago. "It has acquired a concrete and spectacular reality," added Bernard Bigot. "This building is ITER. These steel parts are ITER. Most important of all—you are ITER!"
Along the long way there may have been doubts and sometimes discouragement. "But ITER is too important to let these feelings take hold of us. What we are working for is much bigger than we are. What is at stake with ITER—and with fusion—is energy safety for the generations to come. And energy safety is one of the first conditions for a better life for all."
With this in mind, the ITER staff (some 550 out of 650 staff members were present) closed ranks for the official photograph—a very impressive one, which conveyed the pride, commitment and enthusiasm of the men and women from 35 nations working to translate into reality "the dream of three generations of fusion physicists."