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ITER NEWSLINE 271
Since January 2012, the French Nuclear Safety Regulator (Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire, ASN) has performed five inspections of the civil works on the ITER construction site.
Last Thursday 30 May at ITER, the results of these inspections were presented to the participants in the plenary session of the Local Commission for Information (CLI)—the citizens watchdog group that monitors ITER activities in accordance with the French 2006 Transparency and Nuclear Safety Act.
ASN considers that the organization of the ITER worksite is robust and efficient. In 2012, however, the Regulator noted that there was still room for improvement in the management of "non-conformities"—the small and inevitable deviations from blueprints that occur in construction works.
On a few occasions last year ASN observed that the "notification process" from the moment a deviation is identified by the contractor until a non-conformance report is processed by the ITER Organization needed to be optimized.
Following this remark, the ITER Organization took the necessary measures to ensure that procedures are observed throughout the chain of suppliers and contractors. In its last inspection to date (25 April 2013), ASN noted "a real improvement of the principles adopted and imposed by ITER [to its contractors] in the management of non-conformities."
Although it is not an obligation, the ITER Organization has accepted that one or two CLI members be included as "observers" in one of the upcoming ASN inspections. Both the ASN and the CLI expressed their appreciation to ITER Director-General Osamu Motojima for this expression of the Organization's commitment to openness and transparency.
ASN will continue to scrutinize the ITER installation throughout its lifetime and into dismantlement.
This week, Newsline talked to former Deputy Director-General (DDG) Yong-Hwan Kim, who directed the Central Engineering & Plant Directorate from January 2007 to December 2012. Since returning to Korea, Yong-Hwan has taken up management responsibilites at the Korean Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, an agency created in the aftermath of Fukushima Daiichi. We asked him to tell us about the changes of the last months.
How does it feel being back in Korea after six years in France? Have you had to readapt?
I was given a wide range of choices after I returned to the Ministry in Korea for which I had worked before I left for ITER (Editor's Note: the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning, formally the Ministry of Education, Science & Technology). But, finally, I was assigned to the Korean nuclear regulatory organization, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSCC). To put it simply, it is a change from the stance of a licensee to that of a regulator ... and also a change from nuclear fusion to nuclear fission. Since I had already worked as the Director-General of the Atomic Energy Bureau in the Ministry, I do not really feel that I need to readapt to the work. But I do need to refill the gap in my social network as I was away from Korea for six years.
Is there anything you miss about France?
I miss long vacations, the beautiful nature of Provence and the French culture more than anything. I was told that the average annual vacation time for NSSC senior officers was two to three days in 2012. This will be the biggest cultural change for me for a while. Provence, where ITER Headquarters is located, is one of the places that Korean people want to visit most. I came to consider as absolutely normal the beautiful countryside and relaxing atmosphere, and at the time did not realize just how valuable those were to me. Now that I commute to the centre of Seoul, one of the busiest and most crowded cities in the world, I often think of the beautiful road I used to take to ITER.
Looking back upon your time at ITER, what were the most important moments for you—those you will remember, good or bad ...
So many things happened during those six years ... looking back, lots of memories come and go through my mind like a flash. The re-etablishment of the Baseline (describing the work scope, schedule and cost of ITER) during 2009 and 2010 was the most memorable event. I spent a lot of time working on the adjustment of the Baseline for the Directorate for Central Engineering & Plant (CEP) with internal staff and Domestic Agency officers. CEP started out with only three members; six years later, the number had increased to 85. I recruited the members one by one and saw how hard they worked for the project. All the CEP positions are important. I will continue to keep my interest in ITER regardless of the physical distance.
Does being on the "outside" change your perception of ITER? Do you feel that the outside world has a clear idea of the project's scope, stakes and challenges?
I do not see ITER from merely the outside, but see its projects from my current stance as a government officer of Korea. Most of all, I hope ITER will be able to meet the Baseline when it comes to schedule and cost. I also think it important for ITER to open all pending issues because the more the time of disclosure gets delayed, the more participating countries are likely to find it difficult to provide help. If the pending issues do not get untangled, I will try to convince the Korean government to give at least a little help. Lastly, I hope that not only ITER managers, but also general staff, value the importance of the Baseline and that they will take the cost and schedule matters seriously.
We understand that you will now hold important responsibilities in the Korean Nuclear Safety Agency. Could you describe these responsibilities?
Since 15 May, I have been working as a Standing Member and Secretary General of NSSC, an agency established in the aftermath of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan in March 2011 as it raised public concerns on nuclear safety. NSSC was established on 26 October 2011 in accordance with the new Act on Establishment and Operation of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission. NSSC is an independent and stand-alone organization that is responsible for nuclear safety, security and safeguards for nuclear facilities and activities in Korea.
As I mentioned before, I stood as a licensee at ITER, and now stand as a regulator. Rather than the scope of work, the difference in the stance comes as the biggest change. For example, I have to strive to guarantee the safe operation of nuclear power plants and protect people and the environment from any nuclear emergency or accident.
ITER's vacuum vessel, an essential Safety Important Component, will be manufactured by Korea. Will you be involved at all in your new position?
My position covers all the safety matters on nuclear installations in Korea. But the ITER vacuum vessel will be manufactured and exported according to the French nuclear safety standards, so there will be no inspection or approval process by the NSSC. NSSC does, however, have a middle-term R&D plan for future regulatory work on nuclear fusion facilities.
When will we have the pleasure of seeing you again at ITER?
I cannot say exactly when at this moment. But I will try to visit ITER when I have a chance to visit Paris or Europe. One thing I would like to ask ITER is, "Please invite me when there is an important event celebrating a big achievement!"
Robert Aymar, former director of the ITER project (1993-2003) and director-general of CERN (2004-2008), has been selected to receive the IEEE Max Swerdlow Award for Sustained Service to the Applied Superconductivity Community (2012) for his technical and managerial leadership at CERN and ITER and for the use of superconducting magnet technology in high energy physics and fusion energy projects.
The award will be presented on 15 July 2013 during the opening session of the 23rd International Conference on Magnet Technology (MT-23), which will be held this year in Boston, USA. The award consists of an engraved plaque, an honorarium of USD 5,000 and an inscribed medallion made of niobium—the metal most commonly used in superconductor applications.
The award citation recognizes Aymar for sustained service to the applied superconductivity community that has had a lasting influence on the advancement of the technology and for leadership in the development of many large-scale superconducting magnet systems such as Tore Supra, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and ITER. The award also recognizes his role in directing research for the next-generation devices beyond the LHC and ITER, in chairing numerous committees for the promotion of academic research, and in organizing workshops related to applied superconductivity and large-scale superconducting magnets.
Following his studies at the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, Aymar joined the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission CEA in 1959. Early in his career he focused on fundamental research in plasma physics and applications for controlled thermonuclear fusion.
In 1977, he was appointed director of the Tore Supra project in Cadarache (France) dedicated to research on the magnetic confinement of hot plasmas towards steady-state operation. He oversaw the project from conceptual design, through construction, and up to its operational kick-off in 1988 when he became head of the CEA's Department of Fusion Research.
In 1990, he was appointed director of the Division of Fundamental Research in Natural Sciences at CEA, running a wide range of basic research programs including astrophysics, particle and nuclear physics, condensed matter and climatology, as well as thermonuclear fusion.
Aymar took charge of the international research program to prepare for ITER construction in 1994. He then spent five years as the Director-General of CERN, from 1994 on, overseeing the construction and launch of the LHC.
Since January 2009, Aymar has served as a Senior Scientific Advisor to the Chairman of the CEA.
The IEEE Max Swerdlow Award for Sustained Service to the Applied Superconductivity Community has been presented to a total of 11 individuals in the past 12 years by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Council on Superconductivity. Within the applied superconductivity community worldwide, this award is considered the premier distinction for the recognition of technical service in the field.
Additional information is available at www.ieee.org
The Chinese Domestic Agency is building the full set of magnet supports for ITER, representing more than 350 tonnes of equipment. The magnet supports will support the overall tokamak gravity load of 10,000 tonnes as well as withstand the unprecedented large electromagnetic loads experienced by the magnets.
The gravity support system, attached to the base of the cryostat with 18-fold symmetry (see image), needs to accommodate local thermal shrinkage during operation of -32 mm for the toroidal field coil structure cooled to 4 K while remaining rigid against all out-of-plane bending.
In May, representatives of the ITER Organization and the Chinese Domestic Agency were present to witness a step forward in the preparation of a gravity support mockup test frame, which is part of the qualification phase of the Magnet Supports Procurement Arrangement.
The mockup aims to verify the reliability of design and simulate some sub-scale operation loads on the ITER gravity supports. To this aim, a true-size gravity support mockup and a multi-dimensional loading test frame system was designed by the Southwestern Institute of Physics (SWIP).
At the beginning of 2012, the loading frame system was fabricated by the Changchun Research Institute for Mechanical Science Co, Ltd. and pre-accepted by both the Chinese Domestic Agency and SWIP. It was delivered to SWIP in February for assembly.
In May 2103, the first set of Alloy 718 fasteners were released for the final gravity support mockup test installation; these had been manufactured by Guizhou Aerospace Xinli Casting & Forging Co., Ltd.
Wuhan Heavy Machinery, the main machining and welding supplier of the Chinese Domestic Agency, is currently producing prototypes of poloidal coil supports in order to optimize and qualify final manufacturing processes in the prospect of beginning series manufacturing in 2014.
On Monday 10 June, ahead of schedule, a contract was signed between the ITER Organization and the Spanish consortium comprising Empresarios Agrupados and Inabensa for the detailed design, qualification and supply of the Central Safety System-Nuclear (CSS-N) for First Plasma.
The safety control system is one of the three tiers in the ITER control system, the others being the interlock control system for investment protection and the conventional control system for operation. The safety control system is split into occupational and nuclear safety and is the personnel and environment protection system of ITER. The nuclear safety control system is subject to licensing by the French nuclear regulatory authority (ASN).
The selection and qualification of the technology based on hardwired logic involved in the implementation of nuclear safety I&C functions of the highest category—another one of the highlights of this contract.
Seventy-eight staff members participated in the day's activities. Divided into two teams, participants competed in badminton, dodge ball, foot volleyball and soccer.
Lionel Rigaux, Leader of ITER's Accounting, Treasury and Systems Section, and Joe Onstott, Acting Leader of the Budget Management Section, happened to be visiting from the ITER Organization and also participated in the games. "We were impressed by the warm hospitality shown by the Korean Domestic Agency. It was a great pleasure for us to be able to participate in these games together!"
Emphasizing team-building among ITER Korea staff members, Kijung Jung, the Director-General of the Korean Domestic Agency, commented, "I am glad to see that this occasion has provided an opportunity to strengthening the bonds and the solidarity among staff members."