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Knoxville — Vice President Al Gore and Governor Don Sundquist helped break ground Wednesday for construction of the Spallation Neutron Source in Oak Ridge.

The SNS project will be located close to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where a management team from The University of Tennessee and the Battelle Institute will soon take over.

“The groundbreaking for the SNS in Oak Ridge marked a significant milestone, as it is moving toward construction and operation,” former UT Senior Vice President Homer Fisher said. “The SNS represents the biggest national science investment in many years.”

The project’s cost is estimated at $1.3 billion.

Fisher, now with UT’s ORNL management team, said the SNS will pay for itself with the research it generates.

“A great number of testimonials were given at the groundbreaking ceremony about the value of this kind of research investment to the nation, in terms of the returns it will pay in areas like materials and biomedical research,” Fisher said.

The SNS will be ready for operation in 2005.