Achieving a major LBNF/DUNE milestone

Deputy Director Chris Mossey

Deputy Director Chris Mossey

The LBNF/DUNE project achieved another major milestone last week with the successful completion of a DOE Independent Project Review (IPR). The purpose of the review was to assess the project’s readiness to begin early construction at the far site at Sanford Lab in Lead, South Dakota.

Because of the sequential nature of the construction planned at the far site, particularly the significant amount of underground excavation necessary to create the massive caverns that will ultimately house and support the DUNE liquid-argon detectors, initial construction work needs to begin in FY2017. This initial preparatory work includes expanding the existing “drifts” (mine-speak for underground tunnels), constructing systems to move the excavated rock to the surface and completing other work necessary to support the major excavation operations planned to start in FY2018.

And when I say “major,” I mean major! The excavation work will ultimately move approximately 800,000 tons of rock to the surface to create the underground laboratory space needed. Or, to try to frame the scope of this work another way, the project will move the equivalent mass of eight Nimitz class aircraft carriers up the 14-by-20-foot Ross shaft. And thanks to the hard work of the LBNF/DUNE team, we were successful in showing the DOE reviewers that this can be done and that we know how to do it.

We were fortunate to have several guest speakers at the review help Nigel kick things off and establish the overall context for the project. Casey Peterson, the chairperson of the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority, began by summarizing the history of the underground laboratory and expressing the strong support of the state and local community. Andy Lankford, chair of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, related how the project supports the P5 vision for the future of particle physics. And the current and prospective CERN Directors for Research and Computing Sergio Bertolucci and Eckhard Elsen discussed CERN’s support and strong commitment to the project.

The DOE IPR wasn’t the only LBNF/DUNE review going on last week at Sanford Lab. Concurrent with the IPR, a DOE team was also at the far site conducting an Independent Cost Estimate (ICE), which will be used to support the next phase of the CD-3a milestone review. The results of the IPR and ICE reviews will feed into a DOE Project Management Risk Committee assessment and then, projected in the March 2016 timeframe, an Energy Secretary Acquisition Advisory Board review.

I mentioned this in my last update, and it certainly bears repeating. The pace of progress has been extraordinary, and it has taken many dedicated people all over the world to make this happen. Thanks to the hard-working LBNF project team, including our CERN partners; the DUNE team, including the spokespersons, coordinators, and working group and task force leaders; our DOE federal project director and site office team; the Sanford Lab staff; and the many experts at Fermilab who have contributed their talent and expertise.

We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of these projects. And as always, DUNE and LBNF are on Facebook — comments and likes are welcome! Or get the latest news on Twitter at @DUNEscience and @LBNFacility.