Iter prepares for construction at Cadarache

06 February 2008

The Iter Organization has applied for a construction permit for the demonstration fusion reactor it plans to build in Cadarache, southern France. Work to enable large components to be delivered by road to the site has already started, while site preparation is also underway.


Iter artist impression 
How Iter should look when complete
The documents that comprise the Permit de Construire, the formal request of the Iter Organization to construct the fusion test facility, were signed by Iter director general Kaname Ikeda and dispatched to the French regulatory authorities on 31 January. The documents had been updated and augmented since their first submission in September 2007. In addition, the so-called DAC files (Demande d'Autorisation de Création), which includes the preliminary safety report, were also signed on 31 January. These have also been sent to the French nuclear regulators, Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN).


On 1 February, the tender process for the pre-architect/engineer contract moved a step forward with a call for tender to the four joint venture companies that qualified to participate in the preliminary engineering. During the selection process, some 30 European engineering, construction, consulting and management companies were invited to express their interest, 15 responded and the selection criteria produced the short list. The contracts are planned to be awarded in April.


  The nine
  components of
  the vacuum
  vessel will each
  weigh 600
Work to construct new infrastructure or to modify existing infrastructure, such as widening roads and roundabouts, to allow for the delivery of major components to Cadarache began in January. Over the next 18 months, 90 different engineering operations at work sites in and around the sixteen villages between the port of Berre l'Etang and Cadarache will start. During the Iter construction phase, 200 convoys, on average one every two days, will travel along the route. The nine components of the vacuum vessel will each weigh 600 tonnes and the 18 toroidal field coils, aimed at confining the plasma, will weigh 530 tonnes. The cost of the roadworks to enable the transport of such components will be almost €100 million ($146 million) and will be financed by the Bouches-du-Rhône regional government.


By the end of March, some 400 workers will be involved in planned site preparation, including electric power and water supply, digging storm drains, erecting fencing and the construction of offices. The car park at the Cadarache site has been extended to accommodate the cars of the workers. The levelling of the platform on which the reactor will be built is set to begin in February. This work has been contracted to the Valerian joint venture. Geotechnical studies are underway to confirm the soil and rock characteristics and how best to use the two million cubic metres that are planned to be levelled.


China, the European Union (EU), India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the USA are cooperating to build Iter, a 500 MWt tokamak, at Cadarache. The six partners agreed in mid 2005 to site Iter at Cadarache. The deal involved major concessions to Japan, which had put forward Rokkasho as a preferred site. The EU and France will contribute half of the €12.8 billion ($18.7 billion) total cost, with the other partners - Japan, China, South Korea, USA and Russia - putting in 10% each. Japan will provide a lot of the high-tech components, will host a €1 billion ($1.5 billion) materials testing facility and will have the right to host a subsequent demonstration fusion reactor. The total cost of Iter comprises about half for the ten-year construction and half for 20 years of operation.