Wednesday, September 27, 2023

FRIB's environmental impact to be minimal

March 29, 2010

The $550-million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB, poses no serious environmental threats to MSU, according to a preliminary assessment of the facility’s potential impact on its surroundings.

A draft of the 156-page assessment found no significant impacts will occur before, during and after FRIB’s construction, which tentatively is scheduled to begin in 2012 and be completed by 2017.

The draft assessment was completed by the U.S. Department of Energy, or DOE, Office of Science in mid-March. It took about four months to draft.

FRIB is a nuclear research facility that will use cutting-edge technology to allow researchers to study rare atoms, or isotopes.

The draft assessment analyzed FRIB’s potential environmental impacts, such as detriments to land, water and air quality, noise and traffic disruptions, health and safety concerns and possible destruction of historical or cultural items in the area, said Brian Quirke, director of communications for the DOE.

“The environmental assessment is actually designed to determine whether or not a full-blown environmental impact statement is necessary,” Quirke said.

“The bottom line here is we found no significant environmental impacts.”

Lane closures around the construction site, which will be located at the Cyclotron’s current location, were among the more noteworthy parts of the assessment, Quirke said.

According to the report, lane closures could affect the area around the construction site for up to two years, mostly affecting Shaw Lane and Bogue Street.

No significant impacts on the health and safety of workers at FRIB and the surrounding area were found, except for typical construction site hazards during that phase of the project, said Ron Lutha, the federal project manager for FRIB.

Lutha also said any concerns of radiation or other harmful substance exposure once FRIB is up and running can be put to rest, as the facility will be designed to minimize such impacts.

“We’re doing everything possible to make the public and workers safe,” Lutha said.

Thomas Glasmacher, FRIB’s project director for MSU, said the project’s team was pleased with the environmental assessment’s findings.

“We want to be a good neighbor on the MSU campus,” Glasmacher said.

“We’re committed to an open and transparent process. I’m glad so many people took interest in the environmental assessment.”

Quirke said the assessment was not required but was commissioned anyway to look into more obvious concerns, such as potential exposure to radiation, and concerns brought up at a public meeting held in November to discuss possible impacts, such as noise from construction.

Another public meeting was held last Wednesday to discuss the draft assessment.

Quirke said although that meeting was not as well-attended as last fall’s, no serious concerns were brought up at either meeting.

Quirke said public comment still will be accepted by phone, e-mail, letter or similar avenues until April 16.

A copy of the draft assessment is available online at

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“We probably will not be conducting another meeting, but there is another length of time where people have the opportunity to say ‘I like this’ or ‘I don’t like that,’” Quirke said.


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