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US Department of Energy selects New York over Virginia for site of new nuclear physics research facility

The DoE said Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News will still be a major partner in the project.
Credit: Jefferson Lab Facebook Page

WASHINGTON — The Department of Energy announced on Thursday that it selected Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY, as the site for a planned major new nuclear physics research facility. The location was chosen over Virginia's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab) in Newport News.

The Electron Ion Collider (EIC), to be designed and constructed over ten years at an estimated cost between $1.6 and $2.6 billion, will smash electrons into protons and heavier atomic nuclei to penetrate the mysteries of the “strong force” that binds the atomic nucleus together.

The Department of Energy said the EIC’s high luminosity and highly polarized beams will push the frontiers of particle accelerator science and technology and provide unprecedented insights into the building blocks and forces that hold atomic nuclei together.  

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“The EIC promises to keep America in the forefront of nuclear physics research and particle accelerator technology, critical components of overall U.S. leadership in science,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “This facility will deepen our understanding of nature and is expected to be the source of insights ultimately leading to new technology and innovation.” 

The Department of Energy did claim that the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility will be a major partner in realizing the EIC, and several other DOE laboratories are expected to contribute to EIC construction and to the groundbreaking nuclear physics research program that will be accomplished there.

“An EIC will help to deepen our scientific understanding of our visible universe,” said Jefferson Lab Director Stuart Henderson. “The EIC will enable nuclear physicists to build on the scientific advances now being made with the newly upgraded CEBAF.  Our research program is right now is helping to establish the foundation for EIC discoveries of the future.”

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On Thursday, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) along with Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) released the following statement after the Department of Energy's announced:

“We are disappointed by the Department of Energy’s announcement today that Jefferson Lab was not selected to house the proposed Electron Ion Collider. We expect the Department of Energy to provide a full and transparent explanation into its site selection process for this project. Regardless, Jefferson Lab will continue to be heavily involved in the EIC project, and we will work with the Department to secure additional opportunities for Jefferson Lab moving forward – including in the advanced computing space."