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"This is probably the closest most of us will ever get to the ITER Tokamak," said Didier Gambier, Director of the European Domestic Agency "Fusion for Energy" this Wednesday, when a historic all-staff photo was taken exactly where the future heart of the ITER machine, the tokamak, will be built. "This is a further milestone in the history of the ITER Project, a new chapter in the ITER book," he said.

Before Gambier stepped forward to take the microphone, the Director of the Agence Iter France—Francois Gauché, who is in charge of the site preparation and levelling—had welcomed the staff of the ITER Organization and the delegates of the ITER advisory panels convening in Cadarache this week. "Everything around us has changed, except for the flagpole," Gauché said.

And indeed the picture on the platform has dramatically changed over the past two years. More than 40 hectares of wooded land have been cleared, more than 2 million cubic metres of soil and rock have been moved ... and all of this on-schedule. "I would thus like to thank Agence Iter France for the smooth and safe accomplishment of the site preparations," Kaname Ikeda, ITER Director-General, stressed. "We are now looking forward to the next stage when F4E will take over."

With the ball now in his part of the field, Didier Gambier is well aware of the "enormous amount of work" ahead for the European team. "But be assured of the dedication of everyone in F4E to get the job done," he said. "And then, about ten years from now, a different celebration will take place here where we stand today."

Click here to view photos of the event...

The STAC members grouping up in Cadarache this week.
This week, a series of important meetings happened here in Cadarache. The meeting of the Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) was followed by the Management Advisory Committee (MAC) and finally the Council Preparatory Working Group. On Sunday, the week will conclude with an ITER Organization-Domestic Agency coordination meeting. A report on the outcome of these meetings will be given in next week's issue of ITER Newsline.

An artist's view of the research reactor RJH which will be operational in 2014. © CEA-Cadarache
For the better part of his 33-year career at CEA, Serge Durand was an organizer and a coordinator—a nuclear engineer turned industrial architect. As Director of CEA's Center for Scientific and Technical Studies (CESTA) from 2001 to 2006, he was instrumental in the construction of Laser MegaJoule (LMJ), the inertial fusion facility being established near Bordeaux.

Now, as head of France's largest nuclear research centre which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in October, Serge Durand has "a dream"—a vision that encompasses the whole of the energy mix of the near future and goes well beyond the Centre's traditional activities and present enclosure. Serge Durand wants to make Cadarache a world-class facility: "the leading centre for all energy-related research and development."

Most of the ingredients which could make this dream come true are already there and ready: the RJH (Reactor Jules Horowitz) will be operational in 2014; the naval propulsion test reactor RES is due to be commissioned in 2011; and with the upgraded test reactor CABRI, Serge Durand says that CEA-Cadarache "will soon rank among the top three fission research centres in the world."

The Centre's labs are already big players in the development of a "demonstrator" for the "Generation IV" line of future fission reactors. Construction of this sodium-cooled fast reactor, named ASTRID, should start in 2015 in Marcoule, another CEA research centre some 30 kilometres north of Avignon.

"In fusion, between ITER and the twenty years of experience we have accumulated in operating Tore-Supra, Cadarache is already Number One, there's no question about that. Our Fusion Institute (IRFM) has been working in support of the ITER Project for several years and we can do even better than being partners and neighbours: we can integrate fusion and fission, organize the innovations and spin-offs for a common benefit."

Fission and fusion are only part of the picture. French President Nicolas Sarkozy's instructions to Bernard Bigot, the Administrator General of CEA, were very clear: Cadarache should be "massively involved" in renewable energies. In many respects, Cadarache already is. The Centre is home to one of the most advanced research platforms on third generation biofuels—obtained from algae, bacteria and biomass—and it has ongoing operations on the thermochemical production of Hydrogen and plans to establish "the largest experimental solar platform in France."

Add the contribution of the Cadarache-based Cap Energie "innovation cluster" of which Serge Durand is President and its network of 370 local companies, research labs, training centres and more than 200 ongoing projects; as well as the possible opening of some 10 hectares of land within the CEA enclosure to private, energy-oriented companies and the extension of the INSTN (1) students' campus around the Château ... and what you obtain is "an energy concentration that would have few equivalents in the world."

Will Serge Durand's dream come true? "Provided we get support from industry and the local governments, I'm confident that it will. Ten to twenty years from now, Cadarache will be the place where fission, fusion and renewable energies meet and interact."

On the last two days of experimental activity of the C26 JET Campaign—6-7 April—JET was able to operate at plasma currents up to 4.3 MegaAmpere. Since 1996-97, JET had not operated in Type-I ELMy H-mode, which is the standard operation scenario planned for ITER, at this value of plasma current.

This is an important result since it shows that the machine can be operated reliably close to its maximum performance. The availability of more heating power, already envisaged in C27, will make it possible to investigate high confinement H-modes at high plasma current.

On 26 May 2009, Members of the Korean National Assembly, Sub-Committee Chair Tae Whan Kim, Committee Secretary Young Gu Kim, accompanied by Jang Pyo Hong and Yong Seok Kang took a tour around the ITER site. Kijung Jung, Director-General of the Korean Domestic Agency, and Gyung Su Lee, President of the Korean National Research Institute, also participated in this visit which included lunch at the Château de Cadarache which was followed by a presentation on the ITER Project given by the ITER Director-General Kaname Ikeda.

An Inter-Faculty research team at the Vienna University of Technology is examining dimensionally stable and thermoconducting material combinations for nuclear fusion.

The longterm presence of the snow atop Switzerland's most famous mountain, the Matterhorn, may indirectly depend on the success of fusion energy.
As a member of Euratom, Switzerland has been involved in the European fusion program and ITER from the start. In a formal process initiated by the government last fall and concluded in March, the Swiss government has ratified the accession of Switzerland to the European Domestic Agency Fusion for Energy as a third country member.

The government said ITER would be by far the most important element of European nuclear research and it wanted to be closely involved. The accession of Switzerland was overwhelmingly approved by both houses of the Swiss Parliament. As an associated state, Switzerland contributes financially to the European fusion program.

The Communication officers from the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies on the roof of Gaudi's Casa Mila in Barcelona after the meeting.
Boosting worldwide public knowledge of ITER is an imperative for the project. With this goal in mind, the communication officers from ITER Domestic Agencies held a two-day meeting in the offices of the European Domestic Agency in Barcelona. The theme was collaboration. Action items were established on how to best share our resources and best practices. A highlight of the meeting was a talk, "What do journalists want" given by Valerie Jamieson, Features Editor of the New Scientist magazine. She made it clear that the media are changing and outlined how ITER should present stories to the press.

We are all accustomed to hearing frequent sirens from the CEA site and from the construction site close to ITER Headquarters. These sirens are being tested according to the following specific schedule; Particular Intervention Plan once at the beginning of every month on Wednesday at 12 pm; CEA General Alert every Thursday at 1 pm; Construction Site Alert every third Tuesday of the month at 12 pm, as explained in the newcomers safety and security training.

We are fully aware of the inconvenience caused by the multiplicity of alarm siren tests; it takes time, disturbs concentration and causes confusion with real alarms.

For practical reasons, it is impossible for our Department to remind you at every alarm that it is only a test.

So if you hear sirens going off on Thursday at 1pm, every first Wednesday at 12:30 pm, or every third Tuesday 12 pm, don't fret - it's only a test.

The day a real evacuation of ITER building occupants will be necessary due to an internal or external emergency, you will be clearly notified by our sirens followed by an explanatory message.