Media Contact: Mike Bradley
Communications and Media Relations
Oak Ridge National Laboratory has sharp increase in visitors
Tour guide Fred Strohl leads a discussion at the Graphite Reactor. More than 5,000 visitors toured ORNL in 2009. (hi-res image)
Lab officials said 207 groups, or nearly one every working day, visited the lab in the twelve-month period from October 2008 through September 2009. The majority of the groups represented businesses, students and local government officials who wanted to visit the nation's largest energy laboratory.
Community Outreach Manager Leigha Edwards said ORNL and the Department of Energy have placed a special emphasis on helping the public see and hear about what is taking place at the laboratory. "When people can walk into some of the fabulous new facilities at ORNL, they take back memories of some of the greatest science in the world taking place here in Oak Ridge," Edwards said.
Most of the lab's tours include visits to the Spallation Neutron Source and the world's largest supercomputer. The tours also include the Graphite Reactor, a building on the National Historic Register where in 1943 scientists developed the world's first sustained nuclear reaction.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory also operates a Speakers Bureau that provides scientists who speak to schools, civic clubs and regional organizations about various topics, both present and past. The Speaker's Bureau provided a record 578 presentations in 2009, up from 399 the previous year.
Edwards estimates that the combination of tours and speakers bureau means that ORNL's message is now reaching between 40,000 and 50,000 people.
"When we look at these numbers, it's easy to understand how this outreach program can build public support for the laboratory and the Department of Energy's mission."
Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.