Alexander responds to ITER report

alexandersummitU.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, in a statement released by his office Thursday, responded to the Department of Energy’s report that recommends continued U.S. participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. Alexander and Sen. Dianne Feinstein reportedly met with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on Wednesday to discuss the report’s findings and recommendations.

While he didn’t declare absolute opposition to ITER, Alexander noted there are other big science projects — including a second Target Station at the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory — that should be given priority over ITER. The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which Alexander authored, contains no money for U.S. involvement in ITER for FY 2017. There is still a chance that money for ITER could be included during Senate and House conference on the energy and water appropriations.

Here’s the Alexander statement:

“In a time of tight budgets, the secretary of energy’s report on U.S. participation in the ITER Project in France makes clear that moving ahead with the project would come at the expense of other Office of Science priorities that the Department of Energy considers more important — and that I consider more important. Those projects include upgrading the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, developing exascale supercomputers and constructing the Second Target Station at the Spallation Neutron Source in Oak Ridge.”

The Moniz report on ITER addresses the science priorities, but it’s not really clear whether ITER ranks ahead of some of the other projects or not.

Here is a paragraph in the report that addresses this issue:

“The DOE Office of Science is considering several other projects of $1B or more, including Exascale computing, Long Baseline Neutrino Facility/Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, Proton Improvement Plan, the Advanced Photon Source Upgrade, and Spallation Neutron Source Second Target Station. Absent additional resources being made available, DOE would need to delay some of the projects listed above or identify additional resources for the ITER project. At this time, the specific projects and programs have not yet been determined, but DOE is committed to funding the resources needed for ITER in the budgets through FY 2018.”

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.