Energy secretary announces plan to modernize Oak Ridge National Laboratory

September 10, 2000

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Sept. 11, 2000--Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson today announced a five-year plan that is being developed to modernize facilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He was joined by Governor Don Sundquist, Congressman Zach Wamp (R-Chattanooga), Congressman Bob Clement (D-Nashville), and a host of federal, state and local officials. The plan includes the construction of 11 major facilities and the renovation of several others over the next five years. More than half the buildings at ORNL were built during and immediately following World War II.

"For more than a half-century, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been one of the world's leading scientific institutions," Secretary Richardson said while speaking with about 800 ORNL employees. "Modernization of the lab today will ensure that it continues in its leadership role for another generation," Richardson said.

"In a highly competitive research community, it takes would-class facilities to attract world-class scientists," said ORNL Director Dr. Bill Madia. "This modernization plan represents the largest construction effort on the ORNL site since the Manhattan Project in 1943."

One of the plan's most innovative features involves the long-term transfer of Department of Energy (DOE) land on the present ORNL site, making possible construction of seven new facilities funded by the state and Battelle. Four of the 11 facilities would be funded by the state of Tennessee, and three would be funded by Battelle, a non-profit a non-profit research institute that manages ORNL through a partnership with the University of Tennessee. The partnership among DOE, the state and the private sector is the first of its kind in the nation and a potential model for other national laboratories.

In addition to upgrading the lab's research capabilities, the modernization plan also will reduce operating costs, improve safety and reduce energy consumption at ORNL. When construction and renovation are completed in 2006, ORNL will have replaced 1.8 million square feet of expensive and outdated space with about 600,000 square feet of modern, energy-efficient buildings.

Elements of the modernization plan announced today include a new mouse genomics facility that will help bring the human genome project to life, new chemistry facilities, a new facility for computational sciences, and a facility to house the Oak Ridge Center for Advanced Studies.

DOE is already investing $1.4 billion in the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at ORNL. The SNS is the world's largest civilian research project. When completed in 2006, the SNS, along with the upgraded High Flux Isotope Reactor, will make ORNL the world's foremost center for the study of neutron sciences.

The department also recently dedicated at ORNL the most powerful unclassified computing facility in the country.

The federal government's funding of the modernization plan for ORNL is subject to Congressional approval. The plan would be funded separately from construction of the SNS.
ORNL was founded in 1942 to conduct research that led to the development of the atomic bomb. Today, the laboratory is among the nation's leading research centers in energy, neutron sciences, high-speed computing and complex biological systems.

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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