Subscribe options

Select your newsletters:

Please enter your email address:

@

Your email address will only be used for the purpose of sending you the ITER Organization publication(s) that you have requested. ITER Organization will not transfer your email address or other personal data to any other party or use it for commercial purposes.

If you change your mind, you can easily unsubscribe by clicking the unsubscribe option at the bottom of an email you've received from ITER Organization.

For more information, see our Privacy policy.

News & Media

Latest ITER Newsline

  • Disruption mitigation | Final design review is a major step forward

    The generations of physicists, engineers, technicians and other specialists who have worked in nuclear fusion share a common goal, dedication and responsibility [...]

    Read more

  • Image of the week | Like grasping a bowl of cereal

    Contrary to the vast majority of ITER machine components, the modules that form the central solenoid cannot be lifted by way of hooks and attachments. The 110-t [...]

    Read more

  • Education | 13th ITER International School announced

    The 13th ITER International School (IIS) will be held from 9 to 13 December in Nagoya hosted by National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS), Japan. The subject [...]

    Read more

  • Open Doors Day | Having fun while discovering ITER

    A public event on Saturday 13 April draws a big crowd. It was a beautiful, summer-like day on Saturday 13 April. Perfect for a journey into ITER. Nearly 800 mem [...]

    Read more

  • Fusion world | Increased awareness in a changing landscape

    The world of fusion research is changing fast, and world leaders are taking notice. The large public projects that occupied centre stage for the past decades ar [...]

    Read more

Of Interest

See archived entries

Rethinking the unthinkable

A seasoned folk and blues guitar player, the CEA-Cadarache director has long played the semi-professionnal circuit. (Click to view larger version...)
A seasoned folk and blues guitar player, the CEA-Cadarache director has long played the semi-professionnal circuit.
In the weeks that followed Fukushima a few things changed at CEA-Cadarache. "We had to ask ourselves new questions," explains Director Maurice Mazière. "Nuclear safety has always been about thinking the unthinkable. Now, after Fukushima, the unthinkable must be redefined ..."

It had gone without saying, for instance, that in the case of a power failure in a nuclear installation, redundant diesel generators would automatically provide electricity wherever it was needed. This safeguard, however, did not work in Fukushima where the generators were drowned by 15-metre-high waves from a monster tsunami.

Tsunamis, of course, are unlikely to happen in Cadarache. "Still," confides Mazière, "what happened in Japan has led us to ask ourselves some hard questions." Some of these "hard questions" have led to swift action: on the Jules-Horowitz Reactor (RJH) work site, diesel generators were moved to higher grounds—some 15 metres above the original location.

Also, more-or-less-dormant research projects on severe accidents have been revived. For years CEA-Cadarache had been conducting studies and accumulating data on the behaviour of corium, the molten lava that results from core meltdown; this project, termed "Vulcano," is now receiving high priority.

Interest in "passive system" concepts, developed years ago by CEA's Reactor Studies Department, has also been renewed. "The ultimate safety challenge in a reactor," says Mazière, "is the evacuation of residual power when all cooling systems fail. Ideally, in a 'passive system,' heat evacuation occurs naturally. We are assigning new teams to pursue the development of such systems."

Thirty-six years after he first passed the gates of Cadarache as a young intern from École Centrale in Paris, Maurice Mazière has to steer CEA's largest nuclear research centre in the post-Fukushima world. "I see Fukushima as the starting point for a deep reflection process. We have to ask ourselves the right questions, dig into the tiniest details and devise rescue systems able to withstand 'unthinkable' events or situations. Whatever political decision might be taken in the future, we will continue, in the meantime, to stick to the course we've set."


return to the latest published articles