Brookhaven National Laboratory

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Brookhaven National Laboratory
Brookhaven National Laboratory logo.svg
High Flux Beam Reactor - Brookhaven (7494424838).jpg
View of Brookhaven National Laboratory campus, with the High Flux Beam Reactor in the foreground
Motto "Passion for discovery"
Established 1947
Research type Nuclear and high-energy physics, materials science, nanomaterials, chemistry, energy, and environmental, biological, and climate sciences
Budget Over US$550 million (2015)
Director Doon Gibbs
Staff 2,750
Location Upton, Suffolk County,
New York, United States
Campus 21 km2 (5,265 acres)
Operating agency
Brookhaven Science Associates, LLC

Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory located in Upton, New York, on Long Island, and was formally established in 1947 at the site of Camp Upton, a former U.S. Army base. Its name stems from its location within the Town of Brookhaven, approximately 60 miles east of New York City.

Research at BNL specializes in high energy physics, energy technologies, environmental science, and nanotechnology. The 5300 acre campus contains several large research facilities, including the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and National Synchrotron Light Source II. Six Nobel prizes have been awarded for work conducted at Brookhaven lab.


Location of Brookhaven National Laboratory relative to New York City

Brookhaven, which originally was owned by the Atomic Energy Commission, is now owned by the Commission's successor, the United States Department of Energy, which subcontracts the actual research and operation to universities and research organizations. It is currently operated by Brookhaven Science Associates LLC, which is an equal partnership of Stony Brook University and Battelle Memorial Institute. It was operated by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), from 1947 until 1998. AUI lost the contract to manage BNL in 1998 in the wake of a 1994 fire at the facility's high-beam flux reactor that exposed several workers to radiation and reports in 1997 of a leak of tritium into the groundwater of the Long Island Central Pine Barrens, on which the facility sits.[1][2]

Co-located with the laboratory is the Upton, New York, forecast office of the National Weather Service.

BNL is staffed by approximately 2,750 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support personnel, and hosts 4,000 guest investigators every year.[3] Discoveries made at the lab have won seven Nobel Prizes.[4]

The laboratory has its own police station, fire department, and ZIP code (11973). In total, the lab spans a 5,265-acre (21 km2) area. BNL is served by a rail spur operated as-needed by the New York and Atlantic Railway.


Military conscripts entering the Camp Upton site, which would in 1947 be repurposed as BNL, in 1917

Brookhaven National Laboratory was established in 1947 on the site of Camp Upton, a training center during both World War I and World War II. After the latter war, the camp was deemed no longer necessary. Meanwhile, discussions were underway for the creation of a new science facility that would focus on the peaceful uses of atomic energy. For this task a nonprofit corporation was established that consisted of representatives from nine major research universities — Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester, and Yale University. With the corporation finding the Camp Upton site ideal in terms of space and transportation, a plan was conceived to convert the military camp into a research facility.

On March 21, 1947, the Camp Upton site was officially transferred from the U.S. War Department to the new U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), predecessor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Major programs[edit]

Although originally conceived as a nuclear research facility, Brookhaven Lab's mission has greatly expanded. Its foci are now:

Satoshi Ozaki posed with a magnet for the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in 1991

Major facilities[edit]


Exterior of National Synchrotron Light Source II facility, taken 22 July 2012 during Brookhaven National Laboratory "Summer Sundays" public tour.

Off-site contributions[edit]

It is a contributing partner to ATLAS experiment, one of the four detectors located at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It is currently operating at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland.[21]

Brookhaven was also responsible for the design of the SNS accumulator ring in partnership with Spallation Neutron Source in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Brookhaven plays a role in a range of neutrino research projects around the world, including the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment in China and the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.[22]

Public access[edit]

For other than approved Public Events, the Laboratory is closed to the general public. The lab is open to the public on several Sundays during the summer for tours and special programs. The public access program is referred to as 'Summer Sundays' and takes place on four Sundays from mid-July to mid-August, and features a science show and a tour of the lab's major facilities.[23] The laboratory also hosts science fairs, science bowls, and robotics competitions for local schools, and lectures, concerts, and scientific talks for the local community. The Lab estimates that each year it enhances the science education of roughly 35,000 kindergarten to 12th grade LI students, more than 200 undergraduates, and 550 teachers from across the United States.

Controversy and Environmental Cleanup[edit]

In January 1997, ground water samples taken by BNL staff revealed concentrations of tritium that were twice the allowable federal drinking water standards—some samples taken later were 32 times the standard. The tritium was found to be leaking from the laboratory's High Flux Beam Reactor's spent-fuel pool into the aquifer that provides drinking water for nearby Suffolk County residents.

DOE's and BNL's investigation of this incident concluded that the tritium had been leaking for as long as 12 years without DOE's or BNL's knowledge. Installing wells that could have detected the leak was first discussed by BNL engineers in 1993, but the wells were not completed until 1996. The resulting controversy about both BNL's handling of the tritium leak and perceived lapses in DOE's oversight led to the termination of AUI as the BNL contractor in May 1997.

The responsibility for failing to discover Brookhaven's tritium leak has been acknowledged by laboratory managers, and DOE admits it failed to properly oversee the laboratory's operations. Brookhaven officials repeatedly treated the need for installing monitoring wells that would have detected the tritium leak as a low priority despite public concern and the laboratory's agreement to follow local environmental regulations. DOE's on-site oversight office, the Brookhaven Group, was directly responsible for Brookhaven's performance, but it failed to hold the laboratory accountable for meeting all of its regulatory commitments, especially its agreement to install monitoring wells. Senior DOE leadership also shared responsibility because they failed to put in place an effective system that encourages all parts of DOE to work together to ensure that contractors meet their responsibilities on environmental, safety and health issues. Unclear responsibilities for environment, safety and health matters has been a recurring problem for DOE management.

Since 1993, DOE has spent more than US$580 million on remediating soil and groundwater contamination at the lab site and completed several high-profile projects. These include the decommissioning and decontamination of the Brookhaven Graphite Research Reactor,[24] removal of mercury-contaminated sediment from the Peconic River, and installation and operation of 16 on- and off-site groundwater treatment systems that have cleaned more than 25 billion gallons of groundwater since 1996.[25]

Shortly after winning the contract to operate the lab in 1997, BSA formed a Community Advisory Council (CAC) to advise the laboratory director on cleanup projects and other items of interest to the community. The CAC represents a diverse range of interests and values of individuals and groups who are interested in or affected by the actions of the Laboratory. It consists of representatives from 26 local business, civic, education, environment, employee, government, and health organizations. The CAC sets its own agenda, brings forth issues important to the community, and works to provide consensus recommendations to Laboratory management.[26]

Nobel Prizes[edit]

Nobel Prize in Physics[edit]

Nobel Prize in Chemistry[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Atomic Laboratory on Long Island to Be Mighty Research Center – New York Times – March 1, 1947
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "About BNL". Retrieved 2016-06-21. 
  4. ^ "Nobel Prizes at BNL". Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
  5. ^ "Physics Department". 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  6. ^ "Homepage, Basic Energy Sciences Directorate". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  7. ^ "Environmental Sciences Department". 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  8. ^ "Brookhaven National Laboratory Nonproliferation and National Security Programs". 2010-02-02. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  9. ^ "Biology Department – Brookhaven National Laboratory". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  10. ^ "RHIC | Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  11. ^ "RHIC | Spin Physics". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  12. ^ "Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  13. ^ "National Synchrotron Light Source". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  14. ^ a b "Nobel Prize | 2003 Chemistry Prize, Roderick MacKinnon". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  15. ^ "Alternating Gradient Synchrotron". 2008-01-31. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  16. ^ "Accelerator Test Facility". 2008-01-31. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  17. ^ "Tandem Van de Graaff". 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  18. ^ New York Blue Gene supercomputer
  19. ^ "BNL Newsroom | Doors Open at New Interdisciplinary Science Building for Energy Research at Brookhaven Lab". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  20. ^ "BNL | NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL)". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  21. ^ "BNL | Brookhaven and the Large Hadron Collider". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  22. ^ "BNL | Neutrino Research History". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  23. ^ "BNL | Summer Sundays". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  24. ^ "Lab reactor fully decommissioned". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  25. ^ "Environmental Cleanup, Brookhaven National Laboratory". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  26. ^ "BNL | Community Advisory Council". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  27. ^ "Nobel Prize | 1957 Physics Prize, Lee and Yang". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  28. ^ "Nobel Prize | 1976 Prize in Physics, Samuel Ting". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  29. ^ "Nobel Prize | 1980 Physics Prize, Cronin and Fitch". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  30. ^ "Nobel Prize | 1988 Prize in Physics, Lederman, Schwartz and Steinberger". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  31. ^ "Nobel Prize | 2002 Physics Prize, Raymond Davis jr". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  32. ^ "Nobel Prize | 2009 Chemistry Prize, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz". Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  33. ^ "The anatomy of the first video game - On the Level". MSNBC. 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  34. ^ "'+alt+'". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°52′24″N 72°52′19″W / 40.873346°N 72.872057°W / 40.873346; -72.872057