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Gordon Says Science Program Charges Unfounded

Apr 29, 1999
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) rejected complaints that a major science project planned for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory may not meet its goals and needs to be delayed.

"This is plain and simple an 11th hour attempt to kill a worthwhile science project for reasons that just don't bear up under close scrutiny," Gordon said.

The Spallation Neutron Source is a $1.36 billion program to build a high-intensity, pulsed neutron beam facility that would not only serve scientific research, but also have valuable industrial applications. Since 1996, Department of Energy officials have spent $16 million on research and design for the project, which has been endorsed by the scientific community.

"Much scrutiny and research have gone into this program already," said Gordon of Tennessee. "Plenty of reports have indicated this project is worth the investment."

Gordon said he will build a case with appropriators for the project based on its merits as well as actions taken by the Department of Energy to correct potential problems. This includes the recent hiring of David Moncton, who is widely respected for his ability to deliver large science projects on time and under budget, as the project director.

Gordon, a senior member of the Science Committee, discounted charges that the program's management is in turmoil. The charges, Gordon pointed out, overlook the one factual statement in a recent General Accounting Office review that found the project "not currently in trouble."

The GAO review report also speculates on what might happen to the project because of its size and complexity.

"Opponents seized on GAO's speculation as if it were fact and are using that to raise doubts about the project," Gordon said. "Delaying construction funds next year will cause unnecessary delays, greater management problems and added costs."

When completed, the Spallation Neutron Source will be 10 times more powerful than the ISIS Neutron Source in England, currently the most powerful lab of its kind in the world.

"The research at the new Oak Ridge laboratory facility would certainly benefit quality of life issues by giving industry additional tools to produce better materials and products," Gordon added.

106th Congress