On 29 July, a new milestone was reached in the licensing process of ITER. A little more than one month after being notified that our proposals on the Tokamak’s operational conditions and design fulfilled the French safety requirements, we have now received from the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) the draft of the Décret d’Autorisation de Création — the final green light from the French Authorities to create our installation.
We are currently analyzing this draft and we will soon send back our comments to ASN. Then, a discussion will be organized with a college of ASN experts and at long last the final decree will be published — hopefully before the end of the year.
This is a lengthy, complex, demanding — sometimes frustrating… — process. But I must say it is also a very good process. ITER is the first fusion installation that will receive a full nuclear licence. And this is very important, not only for us here at ITER but for the whole worldwide fusion community.
We have always claimed that fusion is safe and in the past two years, we went through an exceptionally strict and challenging process to demonstrate that it is indeed. Now an independent body of experts, with a deserved reputation for being among the „toughest” in the world, is in the process of validating our claim. And again, this is a first: no fusion installation, not even JET or TFTR which, at one point implemented deuterium + tritium fusion, went through this process.
Twenty-seven years have passed since President Reagan and Secretary Gorbatchev met in Geneva and laid the ground for the project of an international experimental fusion reactor „for the benefit of all mankind”.
We all feel a deep satisfaction in seeing these 27 years of hard work and dedication now converging into a decision that, in many ways, is historical.
|The winding line for ITER’s correction coils located at the Institute of Plasma Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ASIPP) in Hefei, China has been busy these days with commissioning tests. Commissioning for this 44-metre-long, 15-metre-wide, 4-metre-high winding line began in July 2012.
Part of the commissioning process includes the winding of two 2×2 turn coils, one bottom-type correction coil and one side-type correction coil. On 23 August, the winding of the 2×2 turn bottom correction coil was completed and the coil was moved to the table for temporary storage.
The winding mould for ITER correction coils, assembled in three parts, was designed by ASIPP supplier JUNENG. The mould is aligned with structural adjustments built into the winding table that were made by ASIPP supplier KEYE Company. The two side winding mould extensions are not needed to create the BCC coils.
In preparation for the next stage of commissioning—winding the larger side-type correction coil, the winding mould extensions were "kissed" together on 24 August, which is only one day later than the Chinese Valentine’s Day (7 July on the lunar calendar). Over the next few days the mould will be measured and any necessary adjustments made; it will then be ready for the winding of a 2×2 turn side correction coil.
Both suppliers have been able to successfully coordinate with ASIPP and with one another, delivering quality work as well as expertise to the winding line.
With the winding of the 2×2 turn bottom correction coil complete, ASIPP has achieved an important commissioning milestone. It hopes to complete the 2×2 turn side correction coil commissioning test in September, thereby laying a solid foundation for the winding qualification.
The official letter from the French Safety Authority (Agence de sûreté nucléaire – ASN) that the ITER Organization received on 20 June marks a major milestone in a lengthy, complex and demanding process that began a year and a half ago.
After months of in-depth technical examination, the ASN has judged that the ITER Organization’s proposal on the operational conditions and design of the installation fulfils the expected safety requirements at this stage of the licensing process.
In simpler words, this is the long-expected green light meaning that the French government authorizes the construction of ITER.
Licensing a nuclear installation takes considerable time, requires the production of thousands of pages of technical documents, and mobilizes scores of experts and institutions. ITER is the first fusion facility to undergo this licensing procedure in France.
As a consequence, at decisive stages in the procedure like the one announced this week, there is a feeling of deep satisfaction among all those who were involved in the process.
In practical terms, a peer committee of ASN and ITER Safety, Quality & Security experts will now work on drafting the decree that will be submitted to the French government’s signature. This highly detailed document can be described as „the safety contract” that will bind the ITER Organization (as nuclear operator) and the French State for the whole duration of the installation’s lifetime.
The final decree that should be signed by the French President or his Prime Minister is expected to be issued in the last months of 2012.