In the realm of nuclear safety, no detail is too small to overlook. An imprecise document, an incomplete procedure, a misplaced bolt or a slight deviation from the approved design can have serious consequences on the overall safety of the installation.
It is the duty of the ITER Organization, as nuclear operator, to ascertain that the safety requirements are understood and implemented throughout the whole chain of its suppliers and contractors, and that the procedures in application of the 1984 Quality Order are respected. And it is the mission of the French Nuclear Safety Agency ASN, in conformity with the 2007 ITER Headquarters Agreement, to verify that this duty is properly performed.
For their sixth visit to the ITER site, last Thursday 25 April, the ASN inspectors, accompanied by one expert from the French Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute (IRSN), had decided to direct their scrutiny to the ongoing civil works on the ITER platform.
After a meticulous review of documents and procedures in the morning, the inspectors spent most of the afternoon onsite, focusing their attention on the B2 slab mockup (rebar arrangements and concrete formulation) and inside the Tokamak Seismic Pit, where formwork activity is progressing at a spectacular pace.
A letter summarizing the outcome of the inspection will be addressed to the ITER Director-General in the coming days and also made available to the public on the ASN web site. In nuclear safety, transparency is key.