NEWPORT NEWS, VA. - The U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility marked the beginning of construction of its $310 million 12 GeV Upgrade project with a groundbreaking ceremony today attended by more than 400 people, including local, state and national political leaders.
"This important $310 million project will further enhance Jefferson Lab's national and international reputation and will provide scientists across the nation and around the world with a new tool for exploring the atom," said U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia's 3rd District.
"What a great day," added U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia's 1st District. "I see it as a great day for our nation, a great day for the Commonwealth of Virginia, a great day for the Newport News community and above all, a great day for science."
Jefferson Lab is devoted to the study of the building blocks of matter - quarks and gluons. The 12 GeV Upgrade, which will be completed in 2015, will double the power of the lab's electron beam accelerator, up from the current 6 billion electron volts. The upgrade project, which also includes the construction of a fourth experimental hall, a 250-foot extension to the lab's underground accelerator tunnel, and new roads and utilities, recently received $65 million in stimulus funds to accelerate work.
"When the upgrade is completed in the year 2015, we will have a facility that will provide scientists with an unprecedented tool for studying the nucleus of the atom. And I believe it will help us add significantly to our understanding of our world and our universe," said Jefferson Lab Director Hugh Montgomery.
Gene Henry, acting associate director of the DOE's Office of Science for Nuclear Physics, noted that the upgrade "will give the U.S. nuclear physics community unprecedented capabilities for discovery and a deeper understanding of nuclear science. These capabilities will be unique in the world."
The 12 GeV Project guarantees the lab’s future well beyond the next decade. It will allow the U.S. to strengthen its science base and maintain its place as a world leader in science and technology. It also will allow the lab to pursue broader, more effective collaborations, while training the next generation of scientists and engineers,” said James Turi, DOE site manager for Jefferson Lab.
"It is exciting to see the ground being broken for this new world-class facility right here in Newport News," said Newport News Mayor Joe Frank. "But it's most exciting to understand the possibilities and potentials: When we can look at quarks and gluons and try to understand the essence of matter. When we can try to understand when energy is generated, what the implications of that are in the scientific world and, ultimately, to the everyday world that you and I live in."
Hampton University President William Harvey said the project represents a much-needed investment in science.
"Promoting science literacy and developing the next generation of science researchers, in my judgment, are the key factors to the pre-eminence of the United States economy," Harvey said. "Now, while the economy may be challenging at times, this should only emphasize the importance of scientific knowledge, scientific research, scientific training to rebuild and reinforce the basic building blocks for a vibrant country. I congratulate all of you who have worked to get to this day. And like all of you, I look forward to the decades of discovery-caliber science to come."
Contact: Dean Golembeski, Jefferson Lab Public Affairs, 757-269-7689, firstname.lastname@example.org