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Of Interest

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Hard work rewarded

Carlos Alejaldre, Deputy Director-General, Head of the ITER Safety, Quality and Security Department

Happy to report that the Public Inquiry Commission's opinion is ''Favourable.'' (Click to view larger version...)
Happy to report that the Public Inquiry Commission's opinion is ''Favourable.''
The ITER Enquête Publique (Public Inquiry), which was organized by the French authorities between 15 June and 4 August, was no mere formality for our Organization. It was a demanding process during which we answered hundreds of questions from the general public, local environmental groups and the members of the appointed Commission d'Enquête (Inquiry Commission).

The procedure was crucial for the future of our project. Along with the ongoing technical evaluation by the French safety authorities, the Public Inquiry is key to pursuing the process leading to the Autorisation de Création—the final green light that will allow us to proceed with the construction of the ITER nuclear installation.

On Friday 9 September, after having analyzed all the answers we provided and having further grilled our team through many meetings, the Inquiry Commission officially issued its Advisory Opinion. I am very happy to inform you that its opinion, although accompanied by a few recommendations, is "Favourable."

I want to thank each and every one of you for the part you have played in this long, complex and very demanding process—with a special mention for the tremendous amount of work done by my team headed by Joëlle Elbez-Uzan.

The general context was difficult: the Enquête Publique was organized in the immediate aftermath of Fukushima and, before getting in the details of our project, it was necessary to stress the fundamental differences between fusion and fission. Also, the public and the members of the Commission wanted to understand all the aspects, not only of the ITER Project, but of plasmas, of fusion and of tokamaks ...

We all worked very hard and on 9 September we received our reward.

The Commission's Favourable Opinion means a lot to us, and not only from an administrative and regulatory point of view. In providing thorough and detailed answers to hundreds of questions formulated by close to 11,000 individuals, 37 environmental groups and the Commission members themselves, we demonstrated our strong commitment to openness and transparency.

A tremendous amount of work: Joëlle Elbez-Uzan with DDG Alejaldre. (Click to view larger version...)
A tremendous amount of work: Joëlle Elbez-Uzan with DDG Alejaldre.
The Enquête Publique was an opportunity to explain and promote our project and also to make the neighbouring community feel that ITER is also its project.

What happens now? First, we will take into consideration the recommendations of the Inquiry Commission. Few in number, they demonstrate how extensive and deep an analysis the Commission performed. The process leading to the final decree will then continue: the ITER files will follow a complex path within the French administration and the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) will issue a final set of recommendations. Eventually, the green light will shine for ITER.

Like many in the great worldwide family of fusion, this is the goal I have been pursuing throughout my whole professional career.

Click here to read the Advisory Opinion of the Public Inquiry Commission (in French)


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