East gate Q&A
Editor's Note: The east gate will begin closing from 1 to 5 a.m. in mid- to late-November, as Fermilab Today reported in September. That article prompted questions from readers, which were answered in a followup Q&A. Fermilab Today staff consulted FESS management and the project's manager for answers to additional frequently asked questions. Those questions and answers are below.
Q: When will the new gate go into operation?
A: Sometime in mid- to late November.
Q: During what hours will it be closed?
A: From 1- 5 a.m.
Q: Why are we making the change?
A: When the Department of Energy took over Fermilab's Safeguards and Security contract, the funds for the contract were moved out of the laboratory's high energy physics budget and into a separate safeguards and Security budget. Congress has provided a limited amount of funding for Safeguard and Security activities. With inflation the costs have risen, but the budget has not.
To meet Department of Energy targets for small business contracts, in 2007 DOE took over the contract for laboratory security from Fermilab, deducting that cost from Fermilab's budget. Now DOE must make cuts in guards' hours to stay within the fixed Safeguards and Security operating budget. Besides closing the east gate between 1 - 5 a.m., DOE will also reduce the hours of guard staffing at the Wilson Hall front desk.
Q: How much will the gate and associated construction cost?
A: The gate is budgeted at $472,000 from Safety and Security capital funding.
Q: What is the total cost per hour of a guard?
A: About $27.
Q: How does this make economic sense?
A: The cost of the gate is paid from a different source from the guards' wages. The cost of the gate is paid from DOE's Safeguards and Security capital budget, not from its operating budget.
Q: Will essential personnel (experts called in for accelerator repairs, for example) on laboratory business be able to enter the East gate during the hours it is closed?
A: That is the laboratory's goal. Part of the contract for the new gate includes technology to operate it remotely, either from the Communications Center or by a hand-held device. If these systems and the gate can be shown to work reliably, essential personnel on laboratory business will be able to employ these devices to enter the gate during the hours it is closed.
Q: What about emergency vehicles?
A: Emergency vehicles have electronic devices (like the ones that turn traffic lights green) that can open the gate. If the gate system fails, emergency personnel may use more drastic means of opening the gate.
Q: If the gates can be opened reliably electronically, why not eliminate guards and use
only automatic gates at all hours?
A: The Fermilab site is open to the public. With automatic gates, neighbors and visitors would not be able to enter. Besides checking ID's, guards at the gates greet visitors, provide information and answer questions.