''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."
How the ITER staff grew — view slideshow below.
The men, the women and the components
On 21 January 2016, 650 people are directly employed by the ITER Organization. At least 550 of them can be seen here in the Cryostat Workshop against the backdrop of the first machine components delivered to ITER.
Celebrating "ITER Day"
ITER Day is celebrated on 2 September 2011 at the near-completed Poloidal Field Coils Winding Facility—the first building on the platform. Some 474 staff members, plus the mayors of Aix-en-Provence and Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, representatives of CEA and local French authorities, commemorate the unanimous decision of the ITER Members to build the ITER installation on the site proposed by Europe.
All together now
One year before building construction begins on the platform, in May 2009, ITER employees join colleagues from the European Domestic Agency and Agence ITER France at the very spot where the Tokamak will one day stand. Some 362 people are now directly employed by the ITER Organization.
In front of first Headquarters
In November 2008, the team had grown to 293 directly employed staff members plus subcontractors. In a few short days, part of the team will be moving to the first office building on the ITER side of the fence.
At the edge of the forest
In February 2008 there are 219 ITER staff members, plus experts and contractors. This picture was taken at the edge of the small pine wood between the CEA and ITER sites.
First ITER Headquarters
By the end of 2006 the ITER team had grown. When this photo was snapped on 1 December, the ITER Agreement was only eight days old. And the "Joint Work Site" on CEA premises was soon to become ITER Organization Headquarters ...
The Original Seven
It's hard to believe, but in February 2006 the on-site ITER Team is composed of ... seven people. From left to right: Jean-Philippe Girard (Safety); Eisuke Tada (Project Office and Joint Work Site Management); Akko Maas (Scientific Advisor); John How (Technical Coordination); Aurelie Annicchiarico (Assistant to Eisuke Tada); Jerry Sovka (Buildings) and Tetsushi Nagahama (Buildings). In the following month, they were joined by Director-General nominee Kaname Ikeda, and his assistants Sachiko Ishizaka and Hiroshi Matsumoto.