The European Union and Japan are still deadlocked over where to build ITER, the world’s largest nuclear fusion facility. But the European flag has already been flown on the proposed European ITER site at Cadarache, when the Public Information Officers met to discuss tools and plans to prepare a good understanding for fusion among the European public. On March 2-3 2005 the Public Information Group, consisting of 27 full and part time representatives from the EURATOM Associations and several European Universities, held its annual meeting in the “Château” at Cadarache (France), hosted by CEA under the auspices of EFDA.

In his opening speech Dr. Michel Chatelier, director of the CEA Controlled Fusion Research Department, welcomed the participants and reminded them about their important role to communicate fusion to the public. During the meeting the attendees debated the PI activities carried out in 2004 and the plans for 2005 and also focused on specific topics, such as ITER, education and the Fusion Expo. Questions were answered and new proposals for the PI strategy were discussed. A large part of the meeting aimed at identifying the main activities due to be launched once the ITER construction is agreed. Lots of tutorial material to support the development of a positive public opinion on fusion has been prepared so far throughout the Associations and EFDA: brochures and booklets in different languages, a CD-Rom, films and video material, the EFDA Newsletter, as well as posters etc.

The EFDA participation in EIROFORUM and the Fusion Road Show, performed by the Association EURATOM-FOM, has been an important issue in the field of education during the last year. Within the EIROFORUM framework EFDA will not only be present at the Science on Stage festival in November 2005, but will also take part in the definition of a new Journal which should address the needs of science teaching across Europe. The Fusion Road Show has proved to be an important tool to communicate  fusion in an entertaining way not only to schools, but also to politicians. The attendees agreed that a video version of this show should be prepared to be shown all over Europe at specific fusion events. Many educational activities have been carried out in the Associations so far, like girls days, summer workshops, school visits etc., but the positive message about fusion being part of the future energy mix has to be further communicated to the young generations, to satisfy their will to know.

A powerful tool not only in the education area, but also for the public and the politicians is the Fusion Expo, the successful itinerant exhibition on fusion research run by Consorzio RFX Padova (Italy) on behalf of EFDA. In the year 2004 the Expo stopped in some Eastern European towns, such as Poznan, Krakow, Warsaw, Riga and Sofia and many more are planned in 2005. In parallel to the displays, the Expo is also being fully redesigned in cooperation with external professionals, so that a more modern and appealing look will be available at the end of this year.

A special session of the meeting was dedicated to present the procedures of the Public Debate for “ITER in Provence”, which is being prepared by the Association EURATOM-CEA according to a new French law existing since the year 2002. The objective of the debate, which will develop over four months, is to launch an overall discussion on the presence of ITER in the Provence. An independent commission appointed by the “Commission Nationale du Débat Public” (CNDP) will be in charge of surveying this process and provide a final report. The result of the debate, together with the input from the project owners, will be used as basis to get the the final licensing of the plant. It is expected that the public debate will create a relationship of trust with the population in the four departments close to the ITER site.

The Associations were invited by Jean-Michel Bottereau (CEA) to take more active part in the preparation of the site, contributing with ideas and suggestions to the preparation of the future ITER visitors center.

As a representative from the European Commission Yvan Capouet, head of Unit in Directorate Energy, confirmed the strong support by the Commission for ITER being built at Cadarache. He proposed that the main objectives of PI activities by the associations and EFDA in 2005 should focus on increased public awareness of the ITER project, on the efficient organisation, high cooperation and success stories in the European research programme, and increased participation of industry in the fusion research activities. Mr. Capouet invited the EURATOM Associations and their multinational scientists to play an active role in the process by bringing fusion to the public. At the end of the meeting the European PI officers agreed on CEA being a great host and excellent organiser and they all look forward to seeing ITER in this site.

The Public Debate on ITER is represented on:

For more information on the Fusion Expo please see:

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