Sierra Club Yodeler: Lawrence Lab plans raise environmental questions, August 22, 2011


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) plans to consolidate those of its operations not on the UC Berkeley campus at a nearby site in the East Bay. This will be one of the biggest development projects in the East Bay–and raises lots of environmental concerns.

LBL is talking about an initial need for 500,000 square feet of space for research and office facilities, with a future potential of another 1.5 million square feet, plus a particle accelerator requiring 3,000 linear feet. LBL is scheduled to decide on a preferred location in late November.

Each of the candidate sites is on the Bay shoreline, and every shoreline city from Alameda to Richmond is touting its own site. The cities are excited that the project could stimulate additional development that would bring in tax revenues. The lab itself, as a joint facility of the federal Department of Energy and the UC system, however, pays no property taxes–and is exempt from local zoning laws.

The [Sierra Club] Bay Chapter is concerned about potential environmental problems at each of these sites, especially in the Albany proposal, and is continuing to analyze them. We regret the lack of essential detail in the proposals, which makes evaluation difficult.