ITER Fusion Project Fills Top Management Slot

Osamu Motojima, the new director-general of the ITER fusion reactor project, has put in place the final piece in the senior tier of his new management structure for the project. He has appointed Richard Hawryluk, currently the deputy director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), as the head of the newly formed ITER Administration Department. He'll take up his new post next month.

The €16 billion ITER project is in the process of building an enormous fusion reactor at Cadarache in southern France so as to show that nuclear fusion is viable as a power source. Motojima took the reins last July after several turbulent years of preparation during which numerous tweaks were made to the reactor's design, ITER management came under criticism from the project's funding partners—China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United States—and estimated costs spiralled.

The original management structure of the ITER organization was based more on diplomacy than practicality. Beneath the director-general (who had to be Japanese because Japan had conceded in the 18-month battle over who should host the project) there was a principal deputy director-general (who had to be European because the European Union won the battle) and then came a further seven deputy director-generals (one from each partner), each heading up their own department. But after the troubles of the previous years, the ITER partners allowed Motojima to sweep that complexity away and create a more streamlined, three-department structure.

The administration department (headed by Hawryluk) is in charge of project management, finance, procurement, human resources, document control, and IT. The ITER project department is responsible for ITER construction and is headed by Remmelt Haange, who was appointed in January and was formerly the technical director of the W7-X stellarator project in Germany. The department of safety, quality, and security is directed by Carlos Alejaldre, who was one of the original seven deputy director-generals.

Motojima has also created another division, the Bureau of International Cooperation (BIC), which will act as a link between the management in Cadarache and the domestic agencies of each ITER partner, which contract out the work to build reactor components. The BIC will be headed by another six deputy director-generals.

Hawryluk has been on the staff of PPPL since 1974 and managed its Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) in the 1990s when it achieved its record-breaking results. With his experience on the TFTR and Haange's on W7-X, Hawryluk says he thinks Motojima has brought in people with the experience to build ITER. "We've got a very firm [cost] cap, so we have to manage within that and finish on time," he says. "The new smaller team—the three of us and the director-general—will work tightly together and provide direction to the project."