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Shake! Boom! Whoosh!

All in a week’s time, Brookhaven Lab was rattled by an earthquake, a sonic boom and a hurricane

On Tuesday, August 23, a quake centered in Virginia sent tremors up and down the East Coast. On Thursday, August 25, a military jet flying over eastern Long Island broke the sound barrier when it descended quickly. On Sunday, August 28, the eye of Hurricane Irene passed 60 miles west of the Lab.

NSLS, NSLS-II and the people involved with both facilities, including users on site, came through all three events remarkably well.

When the earthquake started just before 2 p.m. on August 23, control room operators did not shut down NSLS, nor did either of the rings lose any beam. Accelerator physicist Boris Podobedov was in his office at the time and quickly realized that the shaking was due to an earthquake. “I have an NSLS status monitor in front of me and it showed BEAM AVAILABLE for both rings,” said Podobedov. He even called the NSLS Control Room to get confirmation. “Indeed, according to all our diagnostics, we never lost any current,” he said.

Podobedov later plotted electron beam orbits in both rings, as recorded by NSLS beam position monitors. The horizontal beam orbit clearly shows wiggles due to the earthquake, but their magnitude is at most a few hundred microns and the beam quickly settled back to the desired orbit once the earthquake stopped. “This shows that the accelerator is very robust,” he added. “The beam orbit feedback system, which is supposed to keep the beam close to the reference orbit, is working well.”

Horizontal position of electron beam orbiting NSLS X-Ray Ring

Click on the image to download a high-resolution version. Horizontal position of electron beam orbiting NSLS X-Ray Ring on August 23, from 1:30 to 2:07 p.m. The position, measured in millimeters, is shown in eight different locations around the ring (eight color traces). The wiggles are due to the earthquake. The maximum orbit deviation was about 250 microns peak to peak (green trace, xpue03h). The vertical plot from the same period showed virtually no motion. The VUV Ring orbit behaved similarly to the X-Ray Ring.

The sonic boom raised eyebrows and some were contacted by friends or relatives. User administrator Kathy Nasta had to explain to someone off site that there was no explosion at the Lab.

The hurricane, of course, had the most potential for doing damage. After notifications to staff and users went out the afternoon of August 26, NSLS was shut down when the day ended at midnight. With wind gusts just below 70 mph at 85 meters and rainfall at 2.75 inches, however, the Lab site was spared the lashing of a full-blown hurricane.

Assessment teams in Photon Sciences circulated quick and unedited reports as they did their work. Their words give a glimpse into the preparations and safety reviews that are carried out in these circumstances.

— Mona S. Rowe, Light Sources Communications Manager

August 27
Building Secure
From Bob Kiss, NSLS Research Space Manager

All exterior doors are secure, roll up doors in 725 have been re-enforced from the inside with equipment placed against them. The 1-1/2 gap under the “Man Door” at the WEST Roll Up Door, our worst flood prone area, has been “sand bagged” with material wrapped in plastic. Caution tape and signs are in place warning of the trip hazard. At Eric’s suggestion I have closed interior FIRE DOORS, Conference Room doors and the windows in the “Habitrail” on the second floor to prevent flapping in the high winds. To protect equipment against power surges during the storm the Experimental Floor overhead HPS lights and all machine systems were turned off by the control room staff before they left. I have turned off and unplugged all conference room computer projectors.

August 29
RE: Building Secure
From Bob Kiss, NSLS Research Space Manager

I completed a preliminary walk, through and around the NSLS Complex, Buildings 725, 726, 727, 728M. Very minor damage. Some building flashing on the Penthouse, couple pieces of stockade fence by the dumpsters and Helium Storage tank, the crab apple tree next to 728M is down, (missed the building), some very minor roof leaks in 725 (usual places). All barricades from inside roll up doors are removed. All lights are on. Power to all Conference Room projectors is restored. Control room staff has also toured the experimental/machine portions of the building. No damage reported. Still need to have the Utilities, Power Systems, Controls, Electricians, Computer, etc., groups assess their equipment and systems.

August 29
PS Complex
From Tony Mendez, Photon Sciences Facility Manager

Hi Diane everything looks normal in our complex so far. 817 830 703 832 still checking other buildings

August 29
Ring Building Condition After Storm
From Gregory Fries, Project Engineer

I just finished walking the areas of the ring building that we have beneficial access of and there is no noticeable damage or major water intrusion. There are small puddles in pentant 2, RF & the injector service area, but not affecting our equipment. The vehicle tunnel is not currently passable due to standing water, but the pump is now running to empty it.

August 29
NSLS-II Construction site status
From Marty Fallier, Facilities Division Director

We’ve completed an inspection of the construction and are glad to report that the buildings and site weathered the storm well. No evidence of damage to the LOB or Ring building. Subcontractor superintendents are currently doing a more detailed inspection of their work areas. Power is on and hvac is functioning. There were a few small puddles in the occupied portions of the building that we will track down as to their origin but most appeared to be due to windblown rain getting under doors that are not fully weather stripped yet. No evidence of water damage. Some minor flooding of the vehicle tunnel but this was expected due to use of temporary pumps. Contractors should be working normally tomorrow.

2011-2601  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office


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