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DOE’s D’Agostino Commemorates Decommissioning of BGRR During Tour of Brookhaven Lab

Thomas P. D’Agostino, Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, visited Brookhaven Lab on May 17. Approximately 125 members of the Lab and Department of Energy (DOE) community greeted D’Agostino, whose responsibilities include overseeing the DOE Office of Environmental Management, at an event to commemorate the decommissioning of the Brookhaven Graphite Research Reactor (BGRR).

Thomas P. D’Agostino, Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration for the Department of Energy (DOE), in front of the Brookhaven Graphite Research Reactor and fourth from left. With him are (from left) Captain David Alldridge, Military Assistant to the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, DOE; William Bookless, Assistant Laboratory Director for Policy and Strategic Planning at BNL; John Sattler, Acting Director of the Brookhaven Federal Project for DOE. From Brookhaven, Sam Aronson, Laboratory Director; George Goode, Assistant Laboratory Director for Environment, Safety, and Health; Michael Bebon, Deputy Laboratory Director for Operations; and Doon Gibbs, Deputy Laboratory Director for Science and Technology.

The BGRR was the first nuclear reactor built in the United States for peaceful atomic research and it began operating in 1950. An estimated 25,000 scientific experiments occurred at the BGRR before it was placed on standby in 1968 and then permanently shut down. Decommissioning of the BGRR began in the late 1990s, and the Lab recently completed the physical work of removing the reactor’s graphite core and associated structures with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“The work here demonstrates what can be accomplished by people with vision, with determination, and with corresponding goals,” D’Agostino told those attending the event. “The vision begins with the idea of closing the circle of a facility that served its nation well.”

D’Agostino continued, “The work done at Brookhaven is sparking a clean energy revolution. It’s strengthening and broadening American leadership in fundamental research, and you’re also advancing the educational opportunities for young scientists and engineers — the people who are going to take us out into the future.”

While on site, D’Agostino met a number of Brookhaven scientists, including BNL retiree Julius Hastings, who had the first published paper for research done at the BGRR. D’Agostino also toured some of Lab’s current cutting-edge research facilities, including the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Instrumentation Division labs, Long Island Solar Farm, National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), future NSLS-II, and Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.

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