Local firms benefit from Jefferson Lab upgrade

Michael Schwartz, Staff Writer
Inside Business, February 16, 2009

Just two months into the year, the $310 million upgrade at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility is already paying off for local companies.

A $14.1 million contract awarded earlier this month to S.B. Ballard made the Virginia Beach-based construction company the second local firm to reap the benefit of the massive upgrade getting under way at the Newport News-based nuclear physics facility, better known as Jefferson Lab.

The lab, famous for its underground particle accelerator that searches for the building blocks of matter, received approval from the DOE in September for what is being called the 12 GeV Upgrade Project, a complex undertaking that will double the power of the underground particle beam from 6 billion electron volts, or GeV, to 12 billion GeV.

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.

S.B. Ballard's task will be to construct the fourth experimental hall and supporting facilities, a total of about 20,000 square feet of new space. The fourth hall, known as Hall D, will be an 8,000-square-foot facility.

The company will also construct new roads, utilities and a 250-foot extension of Jefferson Lab's accelerator tunnel, the underground infrastructure that allows the accelerator beam to run into the halls where it collides with particles to create observable physics phenomena.

Ballard's construction is expected to begin in the spring and to be completed in late summer 2011.

In January, Jefferson Lab awarded $5 million worth of contracts for the upgrade, $1.5 million of which went to Newport News-based Ritchie-Curbow Construction Co., for the construction of an addition to lab's massive Central Helium Liquefier building.

In other Jefferson Lab news, Jefferson Science Associates LLC, a joint venture that operates the lab, was awarded a contract extension to continue its management of the facility for DOE.

The extension will allow JSA, a joint venture between the Southeastern Universities Research Association and Computer Sciences Corp., to keep the reins of the lab until at least 2014. The extension was awarded based on the lab's performance during DOE examinations.

"All of us are pleased that the DOE has recognized our efforts with a contract extension and an outstanding report card," said Hugh Montgomery, director of Jefferson Lab and president of JSA.

That report included two "As" for science and technology, and management and operation. The examination found that the lab met or exceeded expectations in all areas.

"Today's announcement of an extension to the JSA contract is a validation of the successful model of academic and industrial partnership that we created to address the complex challenges of operating a national lab," Lawrence Hare, president of CSC's Applied Technology Division, said in a prepared statement.