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Of Interest

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Carlos Alejaldre, Deputy Director-General for Safety & Security.
The licensing process for ITER as a nuclear installation is making good progress. Work continues on updating the preliminary safety report (RPrS) and other licensing files in response to requests from the nuclear safety authorities. In January 2008 we delivered the documents to the French nuclear regulatory authority. In response, they requested a list of requirements giving more technical details, and a list of all pressurised equipments.

Our department is currently working its way down this list and toward other requirements, knowing that we have to deliver the answer by September. That gives us only limited time and thus all ITER Responsible Officers are deeply involved in providing the updated input data to the Nuclear, Safety and Environment Division, in charge of writing the DAC files. Sending off these files for the Demand of Authorization for Creation (DAC), the fundamental legal documents enabling us to obtain ITER nuclear license, has the highest priority.

Also, technical information has been provided to the nuclear safety authority showing that the ITER divertor does not fall within the scope of the French Pressure Equipment Decree on the basis that stresses on that component are dominated by electromagnetic and thermal loads.

Then, last but not least, a three-part series of training sessions were launched in order to achieve and maintain a strong safety culture within the ITER Organization. The first training session covered a general introduction including safety leadership and was mandatory for all ITER safety staff and senior management. The goal of the second session will be to gain a basic understanding of the nuclear safety framework here in France and its applications to the ITER Project. This part is intended for senior management and about 150 technical staff. For part three, the French safety authorities will come on site to train senior management, line-management and all ITER about nuclear regulations in France and the role of the regulator-operator. This will take place on the 1st of July and I strongly recommend to attend.

All this is set up in order to enhance our safety values, norms and attitudes which must be integrated into the entire operating organization from the design and construction phase of the facility and during the operation until its dismantling.

Mario Merola
Mario Merola, leader of the ITER Divertor Section and acting Blanket Section leader, has been appointed Head of the Internal Components Division. This Division comprises activities for the divertor, the blankets and the frame modules for the Test Blanket Modules (TBMs).

Mario, born in Naples, Italy, in 1963, started his career in fusion with a degree in Nuclear Engineering at the Polytechnic of Milan. Looking at the topic of his PhD thesis, one would think he chose it having his later ITER career already in mind: Technology for Plasma-Facing Components.

"Back in those days, the idea of having a component that could withstand 20 MW/m² was a dream. But now, the development of a reliable heat removal system has become reality, and we will see it inside ITER."

In 1994 Mario became Assistant Professor for Nuclear Technologies at the Polytechnic of Turin, Italy. Two years later he joined the EFDA team, the former coordination body of the European fusion program based in Garching, Germany, as Responsible Officer for the divertor technology. In 2006, one year after Cadarache was chosen to host ITER, Mario joined the ITER team; two years later he was appointed Divertor Section Leader.

"The internal components are crucial for the performance of the machine," Mario stressed. "They are the soldiers at the frontline of the plasma. And our army, composed by the staff members of the Division, by our ITER colleagues and the staff in the Domestic Agencies, is determined to win the battle. And we will."

André-Marie Ampère
Among all the great scientific minds fusion is indebted to, André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836) stands out as the man who, some two hundred years ago, formulated the laws of electromagnetism. Science acknowledged his contribution by giving his name to the base unit of electric current—a word, most often shortened to "Amp," that is one of the most frequently used in technical discussions at ITER.

A secondary school teacher in provincial Bourg-en-Bresse, not far from Lyon, then a professor at the Ecole Polytechnique and College de France in Paris, Ampère's interests embraced much more than math, chemistry and physics: his intellectual passions ranged from botany to metaphysics and—years before Darwin formulated his theory—the evolution of species.

A giant in his time, a member of the French Academy of Sciences and of the London and Edinburgh Royal Societies, Ampère remained a simple and rather poor man all his life.

In 1808, the Imperial government provided him with the position of General Inspector of Education, a grandiloquent title for a rather menial job. Ampère was to spend the subsequent years travelling from lycée to lycée, "inspecting" teacher and student performance. This mission, carried out under early 19th century travel conditions, was to exact a heavy toll on his health.

On 30 May 1836, after years of being chronically ill, Ampère arrived at the Collège Royal—now the Lycée Thiers—in Marseille to perform yet another inspection. There, his condition worsened and doctors, called to his bedside, diagnosed a pulmonary infection and ordered absolute rest. But the 61-year-old Inspecteur Général was already too diminished. He spent the last days of his life lying in bed in the Principal's apartment, asking to be read history and philosophy books. He died in the early hours of 9 June, away from his family in a city that was foreign to him.

The local professors, the members of the Marseille Academy, and a couple of officials from the local Delegation of the Ministry of Education gathered at his funeral. The local newspapers noted that the "principal authorities in the city had not deemed necessary to follow the casket of a savant who had brought so much honour to the Nation." André-Marie Ampère was buried in the Saint-Charles Cemetery in Marseille, which now no longer exists. Some thirty years later, his remains were transferred to the Montmartre Cemetery in Paris to rest next to his son.

His tombstone was inscribed with this epitaph: "He loved the human kind; he was simple, good and grand."

Hideyuki Takatsu
On 1 April, Hideyuki Takatsu was appointed Deputy Director-General of the Fusion Research and Development Directorates within the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA). In this capacity, he will be responsible for all ITER-related activities within the Japanese Domestic Agency (JA DA) based in Naka.

Hideyuki Takatsu is a familiar face in the ITER community and in the fusion research community in general. After earning a degree in nuclear and mechanical engineering from Osaka University and a PhD in mechanical engineering from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, he joined the Japanese Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI). Over time, he became responsible for the design of JT-60 Tokamak, its R&D, and the fabrication of the vacuum vessel, its plasma-facing components, and mechanical support structures. He participated in the assembly of the JT-60 at the Naka site, as well as in testing and commissioning and the initial operation and experiment phases.

Takatsu-san joined the ITER Project in 1988 in the early days of the Conceptual Design Activities (CDA) phase. As a member of the Joint Central Team based in Garching, Germany he was in charge of the nuclear system and later, throughout the Engineering Design Activities (EDA), he became the deputy leader of the Japanese Home Team. From 1995 on, he supervised the Blanket Technology Laboratory in charge of both the design and technology development for the ITER shielding blanket and the Test Blanket Module (TBM). He was also a member of the ITER Test Blanket Working Group (TBWG) during the EDA phase.

From 1998 until 2001 he served as a Contact Person on behalf of the Japanese government for the ITER Project. As ITER completed the EDA phase, he took over the supervision of all of the fusion technology R&D activities for ITER and DEMO as Director of the Fusion Technology Department of JAERI and later for JAEA. Takatsu-san was also Chair of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Committee on Fusion Nuclear Technology Collaboration and is now Vice Chair of the Fusion Power Coordinating Committee. He is also acting Chair of the IFMIF/EVEDA Project Committee doing material research for future fusion power plants as part of the Broader Approach projects.

Takatsu's appointment as JADA Head will be formally announced during the ITER Council meeting in Naka, Japan, next week. His new position will become effective from 17 June. Tsunematsu-san, who was acting Domestic Agency Head up until now, will remain Director-General of the Fusion Research and Development Directorates within the JAEA.

The challenges of a new organizational geometry

"It is my real pleasure to come back to the ITER Project, which leads the activities of the worldwide fusion community. From my university days on, I fully devoted my research career to fusion. I enjoyed working on a large part of the lifecycle of JT-60, and when I joined the ITER Project, I expected to see another fusion device through its construction phase. Unfortunately, it took a long time to reach the point we are at now. I will do my best to contribute my knowledge and wisdom as much as I can towards the success of this project. It is a great pleasure to work again with so many of my old friends as well as to meet new friends."

"In my view, ITER is a real challenge, not only from a scientific and technological point of view, but also from the point of view of management and organization. The new geometry of work sharing and work integration between the central ITER Organization and the seven Domestic Agencies is very challenging. Mutual understanding is central to this form of collaboration."

"I know that the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies are working to perfect their collaboration to better manage technical, managerial, and financial concerns. I had the opportunity to participate in three ITER Organization-Domestic Agency meetings in the last two months where I was impressed by the progress made. Technical integration led by Principal Deputy Director-General and supported by the Project Office is improving thanks to more efficient collaboration and good understanding. In my experience, international endeavors like this need a 'shake-down' period before reaching 'steady-state' operation; this was the case during the Conception (CDA) and Engineering (EDA) design phases of ITER. These 'shake-down' periods are not waste of time and resources, but a necessary step for the project to run at its full capacity. We are now in the construction phase and the stakes are higher than ever, however I am convinced that our project will shortly reach 'steady-state' operation."

On Friday 5 June, the Communauté d'Agglomération du Pays d'Aix initiated a visit to ITER for 15 people from the "Club de l'Amitié Franco-Japonaise" that involved Japanese managers. Jean-Michel Bottereau, Technical Head at Agence Iter France showed them the site; Hiroshi Matsumoto, Head of the Office of the Director-General gave them a presentation of the project in Japanese.

On 11 June, Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), decided to raise the level of influenza H1N1 pandemic alert from phase 5 to phase 6: this does not signify that the virus is more severe than before, it is simply an indicator that the virus continues to spread.

According to Margaret Chan "the virus is spreading under close and careful watch. [...] No previous pandemic has been detected so early and watched so closely in real time, right at the very beginning."

In the conclusion of her press communiqué, she states: "WHO continues to recommend no restrictions on travel and no bordure closures."

In France, considering the relatively low number of confirmed cases, the Government decided this Friday morning that the situation is allowing to stay at the previous alert level (5A). At the moment, besides giving regular updates to the public and informing passengers at airports, railway stations and ports, no other measures are foreseen.

If you want to know more about the "all metal wall for JET," click here to download the latest issue of JET Insight.

Academician Evgeny Velikhov (right), President of the Kurchatov Institute and Vice-Chair of the ITER Council, signing the Procurement Arrangement on behalf of the Russian Federation with Anatoli Krasilnikov (left), head of the Russian Domestic Agency, and Kimihiro Ioki, head of the Vacuum Vessel Division, assisting.
On Tuesday, 9 June 2009, the Procurement Arrangements for the upper ports of the ITER vacuum vessel and the divertor dome were signed at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, Russia. Director-General Kaname Ikeda signed the contract on behalf of the ITER Organization and Academician Evgeny Velikhov, President of the Kurchatov Institute and Vice-Chair of the ITER Council, on behalf of the Russian Federation.

In total, the ITER vacuum vessel is equipped with 44 ports installed at three levels—upper, equatorial and lower—providing access to the vacuum vessel. The 18 upper ports each measure 2.5 x 3.5 metres on the outer side and 1.5 x 1.5 metres on the inner side of the six-metre-long "corridor" and have several service functions: hosting of the diagnostic port plugs for diagnostics and the launchers for ITER's radiofrequency heating system. They will also host the extensions of the in-vessel cooling pipes and coils for mitigation of the plasma instabilities, for which they are equipped with special "chimneys." As the ports are an intrinsic part of the first confinement and safety boundary provided by the vacuum vessel system, their manufacturing requires strict quality assurance and close adherence to the nuclear code and regulations.

The Procurement Arrangement for the equatorial and lower ports was signed with Korea last November.

The second Procurement Arrangement that was signed in Moscow this week comprises the manufacturing of the divertor dome. One of the key components of the ITER machine, the Divertor is situated along the bottom of the vacuum vessel. It extracts heat and helium ash—the products of the fusion reaction—and other impurities from the plasma, in effect acting like a giant exhaust pipe.

The divertor structure comprises a cassette body and three plasma-facing components, namely the inner vertical target, the outer vertical target and the dome. The inner and outer vertical targets are the components that directly face the hot plasma and will have to remove the heat load via conduction and convection. The dome baffles the neutral particles stemming from the fusion reaction and protects the divertor's cassette body and the diagnostic instruments from direct interaction with the plasma.

The dome itself consists of a steel supporting structure onto which the plasma-facing units are mounted. All three plasma-facing units, the inner particle reflector plate, the umbrella and the outer particle reflector plate are coated with tungsten-carbon fibre composite, a high-refractory material. In order to remove the heat, the dome is actively cooled by pressurized water.

Training and development of staff skills is one of the key priorities in any professional organization and it has certainly been high on the agenda of the ITER Organization over the last months. After a lot of consultation with and input from the Deputy Director-Generals and Division Heads, the Human Resources Division last month presented a Training Policy and Plan to ITER senior management and to the Staff Committee.

The Head of Department or Office is responsible for the identification of the training needs which impact the ITER Organization liability. So, he/she defines the training priorities for his/her scope. One person was appointed per Department as training coordinator, who deals within the Department for training issues and interfaces with the Human Resources Division.

There will be three types of training for ITER staff:

  • 1. Mandatory training (mainly concerning safety and security)
  • 2. Corporate training (e.g., cross cultural, languages, team management, time management)
  • 3. Specific departmental training

  • The Human Rersources Division developed different new training courses in collaboration with the Departments (safety, induction training, project management etc.). This training courses aim to be spread within the entire ITER Organization. The other training sessions will be organized according to the training plan and needs of every department.

    Thanks to the support of the Logistics team, Human Resources now has its own dedicated training room, P 217, which is fully equipped and has 10 computers to accommodate 20 people at a time. This room is for training purposes only and should be booked through Human Resources.

    Below you will find the list of training coordinators per department. They will be in charge of implementing the training plan in their respective departments.

  • ADM: ANDRÉ Violette
  • CEP: VINE Graeme
  • CHD: ETIENNE François-Xavier
  • FST: ROSSINI Céline
  • PRO: BOUTTIERE Brigitte
  • SAS: REYNARD Pierre
  • TKM: BATAILLÉ Florence

  • For further questions on the Human Resources training plan, please contact: or

    Last week, Gabrielle, Justine, Stéphane, Tiphaine and Clément, junior high school students from five different local establishments, stepped into journalist's shoes, or, to be more precise—hardhats and boots—for two days on the ITER worksite. While Gabrielle and Justine managed the cameras, reporters Stéphane, Tiphaine and Clément performed interviews, asked questions, and learned about the work-in-progress, all with a full dose of enthusiasm and humour. The result is a two-page ITERoscope newspaper with articles, photos, and—thanks to the help of Sylvie André from Agence Iter France—a professional layout. Altogether a professional job!

    The reporter training was part of the 14th CEA-Cadarache Youth Day (Rencontres Cadarache Jeunes), in which 200 junior high school students and their professors from nearby schools were invited to spend a day at CEA Cadarache. ITERoscope was distributed to all at the end of the day; a souvenir from ITER that will be shared with families and schoolmates.

    John Holdren
    John Holdren, Director of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) since March and Assistant to President Obama for Science and Technology, was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society on 15 May.

    This prestigious national academy of science of the British Commonwealth is an independent body, founded 350 years ago to promote the advancement of science; illustrious members have included Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking. "Our new Fellows are at the cutting edge of science worldwide," said Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society. "Their achievements represent the vast contribution science makes to society."

    John Holdren is an influential scholar on energy, climate and nuclear non-proliferation. Trained in theoretical plasma physics, space science and engineering, he has run the science, technology and public policy program at Harvard University since 1996. He worked as a theoretical plasma physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, concentrating on fusion energy and its environmental impacts. He was a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology from 1994 to 2001 and chaired two subcommittees that addressed energy research. A 1995 subcommittee review identified fusion energy as an attractive clean energy option. He has also been active in the arms control and nuclear non-proliferation policy issues.

    "Holdren has put his scientific and political judgements to enormous effect in furthering deliberations on international security and arms control," the Royal Society noted in its announcement, stressing in particular Holdren's role as a leader of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs that bring together scholars and public figures dedicated to reducing the dangers from nuclear weapons and armed conflict. Holdren gave the acceptance speech for the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Pugwash Conferences, in which he served as Chair of the Executive Committee from 1987 to 1997.

    Source: OSTP press release / Physics Today article Feb 2009

    Last Friday, while travelling from the airport to his home in Portugal, Marco Aurelio Almeida Pereira had a fatal car accident. Marco was 33 years old, and a member of one of our CAD/ENG support companies (from Assystem) working with the Design Office Plant Section since June 2008. He had been working with the CCS Office on the ITER site design and lately on building infrastructures, particularly the HVAC design (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning). He was a hard working member of the team, with a high level of commitment and competence. His positive and friendly attitude was highly appreciated by his colleagues and his Responsible Officers, and he will be terribly missed by the whole team.