Richardson announces modernization plan for ORNL

People wondering about the future of Oak Ridge National Laboratory got their answer Monday as Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson announced a $100 million modernization plan for the Laboratory.

Artist's concept of new facilities (in red). Buildings to left would be located in current east parking lot, those to the right are north of the main entrance.

"For more than a half century, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been one of the world's leading scientific institutions," Richardson told a standing-room only crowd in Wigner Auditorium. "Modernization of the Lab today will ensure that it continues in its leadership role for another generation."

The plan, which involves a partnership among federal and state governments and the private sector, calls for 11 new buildings to be completed in 2006. When completed, ORNL will have replaced 1.8 million square feet of expensive and outdated space with about 600,000 square feet of modern, energy-efficient buildings. One of the first buildings to be completed (scheduled for 2002) will house a new Computational Sciences Facility.

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

Also participating in the ceremony were Governor Don Sundquist, Congressman Zach Wamp (R-Chattanooga) and Congressman Bob Clement (D-Nashville).

Sundquist praised Richardson, calling him "a good man, a decent man" and one he admires for his courage. The governor also had praise for the creative modernization proposal that demonstrates that state and federal governments and the private sector can work together.

Wamp also commended Richardson for his commitment to ORNL and to ensuring that researchers have the resources to do their jobs. With the modernization of the Lab and the Spallation Neutron Source, ORNL can continue to push the envelope, he said. Wamp also praised David Moncton, executive director of the SNS, saying the project is going strong because of his leadership.

Others attending the event included Doug Olesen, Battelle president and CEO; Leah Dever, manager, DOE ORO; State Rep. Gene Caldwell; State Sen. Randy McNally, Steve Adams, state treasurer; and Justin Wilson, deputy to governor for policy.

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Updated: Monday, 02-Oct-2000 14:48:59 EDT