DUNE and LBNF on the move

Joe Lykken

Last week a distinguished committee of 24 experts conducted a comprehensive Critical Decision 1 review of the DUNE and LBNF projects for the Department of Energy. Steve Meador, head of the Office of Project Assessment for the DOE Office of Science, chaired the review, with Jim Siegrist and Mike Procario of the Office of High Energy Physics observing.

Fermilab has participated in quite a few critical decision reviews in the year since the P5 report, “Building for Discovery,” set the course for U.S. particle physics. But last week’s event was not “just another review.” DUNE, combined with LBNF, is the largest new initiative at Fermilab since the Tevatron and would be the first truly international megascience project ever hosted in the United States. In short, this review was a really, really big deal.

The project teams were led by Elaine McCluskey, LBNF project manager, and Eric James, DUNE technical coordinator, along with DUNE spokespeople André Rubbia and Mark Thomson and DUNE resource coordinator Chang Kee Jung. Also on hand were Sergio Bertolucci and Marzio Nessi of CERN, and leadership of the former LBNO and LBNE collaborations, including Dario Autiero and Jim Strait. The new LBNF far-site project manager, Mike Headley, led a contingent from the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority.

Reviewers for DOE critical decisions are not selected for their propensity to be nice. On the final day closeout, even the most experienced project team perches on their seats in trepidation, expecting to have their ears boxed. Thursday’s closeout for DUNE and LBNF was a dense hour of findings, comments, and recommendations, but the tone was highly positive. Here are a few quotes from the closeout slides:

DUNE: “The DUNE collaboration is growing and well engaged and led by a strong, well-organized management team. An impressive CDR document has been produced.”

Beamline: “The beamline design team is highly qualified and was well prepared. Many have worked on the previous neutrino beamlines and bring that world-leading experience to the table.”

Far-site conventional facilities: Strong team with an in-depth knowledge of the site and facilities.

Cost and schedule: “All DOE and non-DOE scope is included in the preliminary baseline and is consistent with LHC (CERN) costing practices … The committee found the preliminary baseline to be complete and comprehensive. In some areas, maturity is beyond CD-1.”

Management: “Very (very) strong management team members in place on both projects.”

The next morning, Friday at 7:45 a.m., the “very (very) strong management team” assembled for their daily meeting with Pepin Carolan, the DOE federal project director for DUNE/LBNF. Time for a few minutes of relaxed self-congratulation? Absolutely not — instead a laser-like focus on the path to the next major hurdle: a CD3a review later this year enabling a construction start for the far-site facilities.

A strong week for the future of neutrino science.