U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana visited the Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) on June 14 to learn about fusion research at MIT and the plight of MIT's tokamak, Alcator C-Mod. Sen. Landrieu, who is on the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, studies issues ranging from off shore drilling of fossil fuels to nuclear power generation. Nuclear Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Anne White hosted the tour with the help of PSFC Associate Director Richard Temkin and graduate student Bob Mumgaard, showing the senator the Alcator C-Mod control room and the experimental facility.
That same day, PSFC Director Miklos Porkolab received a letter from the Department of Energy (DOE) informing him that its previous request for a "cold shutdown" of the C-Mod experimental facility be changed to a "warm shutdown" for the duration of fiscal year 2013. The change was in response to guidance DOE received from the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development as part of its fiscal year 2013 budget "reprogramming" activity.
The Center is exploring how best to prepare for retaining essential staff through the remainder of fiscal year 2013, with the prospect of possibly restarting operation of the fusion experiment in fiscal year 2014, should funds be appropriated by Congress.