Jefferson Lab gets $75M in stimulus funds

MICHAEL SCHWARTZ - Staff Writer
Inside Business,March 30 2009

 

Jefferson Lab’s ongoing $310 million upgrade was given a boost last week when the U.S. Department of Energy announced the Newport News-based nuclear physics lab will receive $75 million from federal government’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The stimulus showed the government’s continued belief that science is part of the way forward for American economic competitiveness as DOE Secretary Steven Chu announced that a total of $1.6 billion has been allocated from the package for various DOE Office of Science projects.

The $75 million couldn’t have come at a better time for Jefferson Lab, formally known as The U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. It is in the early stages of its massive upgrade, known as the 12 GeV Upgrade Project, which will double the power of its underground particle accelerator, the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF), which searches for the building blocks of matter. The beam currently blasts particles with 6 billion electron volts (GeV). JLab received approval from the DOE in September for the massive undertaking that will fire a beam up to 12 billion GeV.

The lab has since been awarding millions of dollars worth of contracts for construction and infrastructure upgrades related to the project, including more than $15 million going to locally based contractors. The upgrade, anticipated for completion in 2015, entails the construction of a fourth experimental hall into which the beam travels, as well as infrastructure and equipment upgrades in and around the facility.

Of the $75 million, $65 million will be used for the 12 GeV upgrade and the additional $10 million will be used to modernize the lab’s facilities.

JLab Director Hugh Montgomery couldn’t be reached for comment by press time but said in a Lab release that the stimulus will aid the facility in creating jobs and economic stimulus in the region. The 162-acre lab operates with a more than $100 million annual budget and employs nearly 700 workers.

“The ARRA funding will secure Jefferson Lab’s position as a world-leading nuclear physics research facility far into the future,” Montgomery said.

Dean Golembeski, a JLab spokesman, said the facility was asked to submit a list of projects to DOE that might benefit from stimulus dollars – “in terms of meeting our mission goals and fulfilling national needs.”

Numerous DOE facilities and projects were then chosen for various levels of funding.

Chu announced that $1.2 billion of the $1.6 billion will be released now, with the remaining $371 million to be determined at a later date.

Chu stressed the importance that our nation’s science capabilities have in our overall economic health and said thousands of jobs will be created in the surrounding communities.

“Leadership in science remains vital to America’s economic prosperity, energy security, and global competitiveness,” Chu said in his announcement. “These projects not only provide critically needed short-term economic relief but also represent a strategic investment in our nation’s future.”