OF INTEREST: Panel ensures safe operation of NSTX Upgrade

Like a new passenger jet or power plant, the National Spherical Torus Upgrade (NSTX-U) must be certified safe to operate. At the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, the task of evaluating the safety of the $94 million upgrade belongs to the Activity Certification Committee (ACC), whose work remains ongoing. 'This is a critical group,’ said Adam Cohen, deputy director for operations at the Laboratory. 'When you have a complex activity like the upgrade you need a standing committee to guarantee that it will run safely.’
For nearly two years the ACC has reviewed key components of the upgrade, which is scheduled for completion in March and will make the NSTX-U the most powerful spherical fusion facility on Earth. The group conducts hands-on inspections — or 'walkdowns’ — of all systems and subsystems and reviews training and pre-operational test procedures. 'It’s very vital and reassuring when the ACC says we’re ready to go,’ said Mike Williams, director of engineering and infrastructure and associate director of the Laboratory.
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