Construction of a large experimental nuclear fusion reactor for the Iter International Project, currently under construction in southern France at the Cadarache site, has been put on hold: France’s Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) has imposed the suspension pending further checks related to three observations reported in a letter sent to top management in recent weeks. Worry not on the part of Iter technicians, who are already working to provide all required clarifications by the second quarter of the year. This was learned from a note posted on the Iter website.
“These requests made by ASN do not worry us, on the contrary, they comfort us: it is positive that a new company is supervised by an independent body such as a merger, special attention is needed to every detail,” Paola Battistone told ANSA, Head of Development and Promotion In the merger of Enea. “I don’t know if these ideas will cause delays in the roadmap, but they certainly will not stop everything: there are many actions in progress and while the Iter task force will study the answers to be given to the French authority, other processes will continue.”
The first observation made by the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) concerned a structural issue: during the construction phase, in fact, the weights distributed over the reinforced concrete structure that would support the reactor and other systems changed, for which the ASN required a new verification. The second observation concerns the assessment of radiation exposure risks for plant employees: Iter studied this with a more complex 3D model than the standard 2D model, which ASN required to verify the reliability of the new model. The third point is of a mechanical-metallurgical nature: some defects in the reactor segments produced by South Korea require a hybrid solution of robotic and human welding, the feasibility of which must be checked.
“It doesn’t seem to me that they are critical issues for ITER,” comments Marco Ricoti, full professor of nuclear plants at Milan Polytechnic and board member of the International Consortium for Research in Nuclear Technologies (CIRTEN). “The temporary suspension of work at nuclear sites during the construction phase, due to clarifications requested by the Safety Authority, is a physiological factor.”
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