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Welcome back

-Norbert Holtkamp, ITER Principle Deputy Director-General

Norbert Holtkamp (Click to view larger version...)
Norbert Holtkamp
Welcome back and Happy New Year; I trust you all had a restful and enjoyable holiday.

Sadly, 2009 ended with a tragic incident: On 20 December, our colleague Arturo Tanga and his wife Beatrice were killed in a traffic accident while standing at their car. The news left us all in shock. They are survived by three daughters. The loss of Arturo and Beatrice can not be adequately expressed in words. For those of us who knew Arturo, he was a friend, a colleague, a teacher, an outstanding researcher, and a leader. He was one of the very first ITER staff to work at Cadarache. His enthusiasm for his profession knew no limit, and in that spirit he spent a good part of his life with us. We will remember him exactly that way... and we will miss him.

The year that is beginning will require - again - our focus and energy, but will also have its share of tangible result. Next Wednesday, the European Domestic Agency "Fusion for Energy" will celebrate the signing of the contract for the first building to be constructed on site: the more than 200 metre-long winding facility for ITER's poloidal field magnets. In the course of the year, we will also see work beginning on the excavation of the tokamak pit. Manufacturing of ITER components is being launched around the globe; in the most recent news, Korea reports that it has chosen the manufacturer for its share of the vacuum vessel.

It is up to us to deliver. By the end of February, we will be presenting a refined schedule to the ITER Council. We are working closer together than ever with the Domestic Agencies and their industries directly to mitigate the risks that were identified by some parties during the last Council meeting and to arrive at a schedule that is acceptable to all ITER Members. In its next meeting (18-20 January), the Technical Advisory Committee will listen to representatives from European industry and discuss strategies for further schedule acceleration. Defining the schedule is a necessary step before we can finalize the cost, and subsequently the overall Baseline for the project.

A big step forward towards consolidation was taken last November with the Council's approval of the additional cost for almost half the items that resulted from the design review (EUR 400 million); the rest will be addressed at the Council meeting in June 2010. As you remember, during the design review some major updates and improvements of ITER's design were proposed, for example resulting in the modification of the hot cell and the decision to build a test facility for the neutral beams - just to mention a few.

The coming months thus remain challenging. We will have to do the work with the staff we have on board so far, as we have arrived at our foreseen staffing level for the moment. I'd like to conclude by extending a warm welcome to all newcomers who joined the project this week. With you, and the Domestic Agencies, together we will make even more progress in 2010!


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