DOE Office of Science Director Berhe visits LBNF construction site at SURF

In early July, Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, the director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, visited South Dakota to tour the LBNF construction site at Sanford Underground Research Facility and meet with Fermilab staff.

In early July, Director of the DOE Office of Science Asmeret Berhe (front center) visited the LBNF construction site at Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota. Syd DeVries (left) gave a tour of the hoistroom at the Ross shaft. Photo: Matt Kapust, SURF

Fermilab Director Lia Merminga and LBNF/DUNE-US Project Director Chris Mossey welcomed Behre, together with members of the Fermilab South Dakota Services Division and the LBNF project team. They provided an overview of LBNF, which will provide the space and infrastructure for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, hosted by Fermilab.

From left: DOE Office of Science Director Asmeret Berhe, Fermilab Director Lia Merminga, LBNF Deputy Director for Facilities Mary Convery, and LBNF/DUNE-US Project Director Chris Mossey pose for a group photo in the hoistroom for the Ross shaft. Photo: Matt Kapust, SURF

Mike Gemelli, project manager for LBNF Far Site Conventional Facilities, led the tour of the surface facilities on the first day of the visit. The tour included a visit to the Ross hoistroom, where SURF staff monitor the lowering and raising of people and equipment to and from the LBNF construction site a mile underground. The visitors also saw the rock transportation system that the LBNF project team designed and built to move excavated rock from the Ross Shaft to the Open Cut, a former mining pit.

From left: Adam Kinney, DOE Office of Science and Director Asmeret Berhe walk through the Ross hoistroom, followed by Roger Snyder and Josh Lewis of the DOE Fermi Site Office. Photo: Matt Kapust, SURF

LBNF Resident Engineer James Rickard led the tour of the underground construction site on the second day of the visit. About 800,000 tons of rock need to be excavated to create the caverns and drifts for LBNF. Using drill-and-blast technology, miners have already removed about a third of the rock. The excavation is expected to be complete by the end of 2023.

James Rickard (left) led the tour of the LBNF underground construction activities. Miners of Thyssen Mining, Inc, planning the shift’s activities, can be seen in the background. Photo: Adam Gomez, SURF

Berhe also received a tour of the existing underground research facilities at the Davis Campus of Sanford Underground Research Facility by SDSTA Executive Director Mike Headley and his staff. She learned about the searches for dark matter, neutrinoless double beta decay, and other research efforts.

About 800,000 tons of rock need to be removed to create the caverns and drifts for the LBNF far site location in South Dakota. Photo: Adam Gomez, SURF

“It was a great opportunity to show Dr. Behre the fantastic work the LBNF team is doing and discuss the project with her,” said Merminga. “I’m grateful that she took the time to travel to South Dakota and then visited Fermilab.”

DOE Office of Science Director Asmeret Berhe (second from left) and Adam Kinney, DOE Office of Science (center) saw the large equipment that miners use for the drill-and-blast excavation for the LBNF project. Photo: Adam Gomez, SURF

The visitors also received a tour of the existing research facilities a mile underground at the Davis Campus of Sanford Underground Research Facility. Photo: Adam Gomez, SURF