A decision has finally been made to site the 10bn-euro (£6.6bn) ITER nuclear fusion reactor at Cadarache in France, in the face of strong competition from Japan. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER, pronounced "eater") will be the most expensive joint scientific project after the International Space Station. In the end, the EU made huge financial and industrial concessions to the Japanese to clinch the 10 billion euro ($12.18 billion) project in a deal signed in Moscow on Tuesday. Global power politics took a hand when the United States, in what diplomats said was punishment for France's opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, leaned towards Japan's bid. The French had the backing of the EU, Russia and China, while South Korea also supported the Japanese fishing village of Rokkasho, on the remote north coast of Honshu island. The selection of Cadarache, north of Marseille in southern France, already home to the world's biggest nuclear fusion experimental centre, came at a high cost. The EU will fund 40 percent of the 4.6 billion euro construction cost with France paying an additional 10 percent, while each of the other five members of the international consortium will pay 10 percent. In Tokyo's case, this will be offset by contracts for up to 10 percent of the procurement, EU participation in science projects in Japan with up to 8 percent of the cost of ITER construction, and a disproportionate share of Japanese staff on the ITER organisation, including the post of director-general. Nuclear fusion taps energy from reactions like those that heat the Sun. Nuclear fusion is seen as a cleaner approach to power production than nuclear fission and fossil fuels. If it works, and the technologies are proven to be practical, the international community will then build a prototype commercial reactor, dubbed Demo. The final step would be to roll out fusion technology across the globe. What exactly is fusion? Fusion works on the principle that energy can be released by forcing together atomic nuclei rather than by splitting them, as in the case of the fission reactions that drive existing nuclear power stations. In the core of the Sun, huge gravitational pressure allows this to happen at temperatures of around 10 million degrees Celsius. At the much lower pressure that is possible on Earth, temperatures to produce fusion need to be much higher - above 100 million degrees Celsius. No materials on Earth could withstand direct contact with such heat. To achieve fusion, therefore, scientists have devised a solution in which a super-heated gas, or plasma, is held and squeezed inside an intense doughnut-shaped magnetic field. The European Union, the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea and China are partners in the project. Interesting; the realities of the waste are couched in the truth that materials optimised for low activation under neutron irradiation, materials that would be used in a full fusion energy economy, are not yet qualified for use in nuclear installations. Nevertheless, ITER's site offers, most activated materials generated by the non-optimum materials used in ITER during its life can be cleared from regulatory control or recycled after 50 - 100 years. According to ITER, radioactive materials arising during operation and remaining after final shutdown include activated materials (due to fusion neutrons) and contaminated materials (due to tokamak dust - mainly beryllium and some activated material such as tungsten), activated corrosion products, tritium, and mixtures thereof. Due to decay and decontamination, a significant fraction of activated material, increasing with time, has the potential to be cleared. The present assumption is that radioactive material not below the clearance level after 100 years is "waste", requiring disposal in a long-term repository. Estimates of ITER material masses show that about 30,000 t of material will be radioactive at shutdown, and that 80% of that can be cleared within 100 years. However, quantity of waste is not the consideration which makes fusion potentially so attractive. The radiotoxicity claim of ITER is compared with fission (represented by a PWR) and fossil (represented by coal ash) power stations in the following figure: ITER waste, then, is increasingly less dangerous after 100 years than the total ash from a large coal-fired power plant, and around 50,000 times less than the waste from a PWR...according to ITER. I'd like to see some independent analysis of the studies and of the concept, in a permaculture context, but it has to be, in one way, seen as pormising, and in another, seen as a further delay in the redress along energy lines of the eco-system degradation that comes from production as currently construed. Thoughts?