The 3:30 a.m. procession
The scene is now familiar. It is a few hours before sunrise and a long procession of motorcycles, trucks and trailers slowly progresses towards the ITER gates. Everything is bathed is multi-coloured light ─ the pulsating blue of the Gendarmerie vans and motorcycles, the gyrating orange of the technical vehicles, and the blinding white of the headlights...
Familiar, but never routine. Every transport convoy—every "Highly Exceptional Load"—is an event in itself. After all, 300-ton loads (twice the weight of an Airbus A300) are not that frequent on the roads of Provence.
On Friday 10 June, at 3:30 a.m., the first of a series of three transformers arrived for ITER's pulsed power electrical network (PPEN)—the network that will feed power to the heating and control systems during plasma pulses.
Procured by the Chinese Domestic Agency, the three units are massive structures that will weigh approximately 460 tons each when completely filled with insulating oil and fitted out with the proper "bushings."
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