"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" (F4E) 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 AIF 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."