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DOE facilities bus tour to kick off for season

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The U.S. Department of Energy’s 2013 Oak Ridge Facilities public bus tour begins June 3 and continues through Aug. 30.

It offers visitors a first-hand look at the DOE’s Oak Ridge facilities and provides historical commentary on the transformation of the Oak Ridge Reservation during the past 70 years.

The tour continues to be a focal point for tourists visiting the area. Since its inception in 1996, the DOE public tour program has attracted 29,000 visitors from all 50 states.

The three-hour tour allows visitors to see the reservation and hear historical facts and updates on the world-class missions underway in Oak Ridge.

U.S. citizens ages 10 and older may sign up for the tour at American Museum of Science and Energy, 300 S. Tulane Ave., Oak Ridge.

Seating is limited and determined on a first-come, first-served basis, with registration beginning at 9 a.m. weekdays.

Bus tour participants must present photo identification. Those requiring special accommodations are asked to call the museum at 865-576-3200 at least 48 hours in advance.

The tours begin from the museum and take place from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays, with the exception of July 4-5.

Bus stops include:

• New Hope Center at the Y-12 National Security Complex — The New Hope Visitor Center facility History Room features displays and a video about the Manhattan Project, the Cold War and current Y-12 missions.

• New Bethel Baptist Church — Founded in 1851, New Bethel Baptist Church was officially closed as a house of worship by former church members in 1949 following the area’s Manhattan Project incorporation into the Oak Ridge Reservation. The Bethel cemetery features covered grave houses that are unique to the region, and the church is still used for special events and homecoming celebrations.

• Historic Graphite Reactor — A national historic landmark, the Graphite Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory served as the pilot plant that led to the first production of plutonium. Visitors can view the world’s oldest nuclear reactor and tour the interior of the building.

• East Tennessee Technology Park (formerly K-25) — Tour visitors will see the refurbished Visitor’s Center and hear about the gaseous diffusion process that enriched uranium for military and peaceful purposes from 1945-85.

Visiting the American Museum of Science and Energy and participating in the public bus tour allows visitors to go behind the scenes and explore the lives of those who lived and worked behind the fences of the 1940’s city of Oak Ridge, also known as the Secret City.

Visitors will experience the race to build the first atomic bomb through artifacts, audiovisuals, live demonstrations and interactive exhibits.

The tour program is supported by DOE Oak Ridge Office and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Production Office.

Tour partners include UT-Battelle, operates the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; B&W Y-12, management and operating contractor for NNSA; UCOR (URS | CH2M Oak Ridge LLC), the Oak Ridge Reservation Environmental Management contractor; and museum.

American Museum of Science and Energy admission includes access to the museum’s interactive and historical exhibits, live demonstrations and the public bus tour.  Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for ages 65 and older and $3 for ages 6-17.

Call either Lissa Clarke at the American Museum of Science and Energy at 865-576-3218; or DiAnn Fields at DOE at 865-576-0885 for more information.

Details are also available online at www.amse.org.