On November 18, the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and South Dakota Services Division team held our all-hands meeting following the director’s all-hands in September. Elaine McCluskey, Patrick Weber, and I shared some highlights from and priorities for the division. Here are the top five takeaways from the meeting:
- Safety is a critical focus. There are multiple construction projects underway at Fermilab, making the lab an even busier place than usual. In South Dakota, we have the additional challenge of safely executing construction in a 130-year-old former mine. Working closely with our partners at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, we have excellent performance to date, and had a successful visit by the DOE Office of Enterprise Assessment in August. Wherever you’re working, please maintain your situational awareness. It’s always a challenge, and even more so when busy and under pressure. We don’t want anyone to have a momentary lapse that could contribute to a life-altering event. Remember that you have the authority and obligation to stop work if you have safety concerns.
- Site prep for LBNF is officially underway in Batavia! We had a groundbreaking on Nov. 14, and the construction contractor received notice to proceed the day before. Work on site will start soon. The first phase of winter activities will include tree-clearing and preparing the construction staging area. This is a big deal!
- Working across the lab, we continue to make great strides adjusting or updating laboratory processes and procedures to support our Fermilab team working in South Dakota. This will be an ongoing process critical to support the project’s and experiment’s success. The South Dakota Services Division is the portal or “store front” through which all the Fermilab services supporting the project will be delivered in South Dakota.
- Robust communication is vital at all levels. We have a dynamic project and keeping everyone up to speed is always a challenge. It’s (almost) impossible to overcommunicate! We must get the right information to the right people at the right time. We must also think of how to do this regardless of location, whether at Fermilab, Sanford Lab, CERN, or beyond. Two immediate changes we’re making are to distribute the monthly HEP and the weekly Fermilab project updates more broadly. We welcome your suggestions on how we can communicate better!
- We must continue to be flexible and agile. We’re building the largest Office of Science project ever, located at two sites, with a significant portion located one mile underground and only accessible through a 13’ x 5’ shaft! We’re doing some things that have never been attempted before. It’s not easy – so thank you for your contributions every day. As we head into 2020, our key goals are to keep up the construction progress in South Dakota, award the excavation subcontract on schedule, and continue to achieve project schedule savings. We need to lock down the total project cost, and baseline the project at the right time. There are many factors to balance, and we’re working out the schedule for 2020 in the next several weeks. Thank you for your continued support and flexibility!
Chris Mossey is the Fermilab deputy director for LBNF.