From: Steve Biller (Steven.Biller@physics.ox.ac.uk)
Date: Fri Apr 21 2006 - 06:55:44 CDT
In anticipation of the call today, I have put together a
draft UK letter to indicate what might be sent out to the
community to elicit letters of support, should we decide to
go down this route.
As many of you will have heard, the Braidwood theta13 reactor
project was denied US R&D funding by DOE last week. However,
the manner in which this was done has raised serious concern
throughout the community as it sets a very dangerous precedent
to which we feel you should be alerted.
The Braidwood presentation to P5 was due to be given on
Tuesday, 18 April, as the beginning of a formal review process
that had been spelled out to us some time before. We believed
ourselves to be in a very strong position indeed. On the
preceeding Thursday, just before the long Easter weekend,
the US co-spokesmen, Ed Blucher and Mike Shaevitz, received a
preemptive email from Robin Staffin of DOE to inform them that
Braidwood would not receive R&D funds and that everyone should
go work on the Daya Bay project in China instead. No justification
was given aside from a veiled reference to the NuSAG report which,
as intentionally non-selective as it was, had actually indicated
that Braidwood was probably the stronger and definately the more
developed proposal, saying it was very difficult to even work out
the actual relative cost of the Daya Bay initiative. Furthermore,
no funding ceiling that would have prevented one or another of the
proposals had ever been discussed. However, whatever reasons may
or may not have been behind such a decision, the central point is
that the nature of this move was that of a surprise attack, involving
no warning at all to the Braidwood collaboration (let alone
international partners), which had been encouraged to commit
considerable effort and resources to this over the past couple
years, such that maximum damage was inflicted. It was also very
clearly designed to bypass peer-review so as to avoid comparison
of competing proposals and allow little or no time to react
before the P5 presentation.
Regardless of whether Braidwood should or shouldn't, will or
won't be funded, this cannot be allowed to stand as a precedent.
The US has, sadly, had a reputation for suddenly terminating
projects in the past without any discussions with international
partners, but this particular instance is the most egregious
example yet and its blatent flaunting of the peer-review process
is both reprehensible and totally unacceptable under any scenario.
If allowed to stand, it would have disasterous consequences for
both science in general and future international collaborations
with the US in particular. We believe that the only way to combat
this is to force a backdown on a specific case rather than to
seek questionable assurances in a fuzzy, general way that this
won't happen again. We do not ask that Braidwood be guaranteed
of funding by any means, but we ask for your support to force
a full and proper, independent peer-review of this project. This
is something to which we should ALL be entitled... it is the cornerstone
upon which we absolutely depend. There is still time to do this
as only R&D money has been given to the 'competing' project.
Please send any letters or emails to the address list given below.
Very many thanks for your support in this matter.
The UK Braidwood collaborators
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