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Domenici Opens WIPP Research Facility

Press Release

Location: Carlsbad, NM

Domenici Opens WIPP Research Facility

-- International Effort Launched at Underground Neutrino Research Facility --

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today helped launch operations at the Enriched Xenon Observatory (EXO) at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in Eddy County, a cutting-edge scientific research project aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of neutrino particles.

The new EXO facility is an advanced participle-astrophysics collaboration and a result of international collaboration. The program is expected to house experiments exploring neutrino activity and its role in the universe. As chairman and ranking member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Committee, Domenici played a central role in securing federal funding for the project.

"Now I am happy to help herald a new mission for WIPP that will make this facility a research laboratory of the highest order. Today we launch a scientific effort that will change our knowledge and understanding of the atom itself and its most mysterious part—the neutrino," said Domenici, who has been a long-time advocate for neutrino research at the WIPP site.

"We've known for years that these salt beds were not only ideal for storing transuranic waste. We knew they also offered an excellent environment for conducting neutrino research. It just took the world a bit longer to understand that fact," he said.

"It excites me that some of the best scientific minds in the world will work at WIPP to take neutrino measurements without outside interference," he said. "It is not an overstatement that the work here can make a difference to mankind."

Domenici praised the project's leadership at the largest double beta decay experiment in the world, which is expected to produce data on the mass and other properties of the neutrino particle. The experiments—which will be conducted underground at WIPP—are funded jointly by DOE and Stanford University and supported by technology and materials from scientists in Russia, Italy, France and Switzerland.

At Domenici's request, the DOE has provided $1.5 million per year for the project over the past six years. He also secured $3.2 million in the FY2009 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in July.

In FY2008, Domenici secured $236.7 million for overall WIPP operations, including its records center, economic development activities and economic impact assistance, which are expected to enable the project to receive and store 21 contract handled and five remote-handled shipments per week.

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