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Berkeley Lab’s Community Advisory Group Fosters Open Discussion

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director Paul Alivisatos has placed a renewed emphasis on the Lab being a good neighbor in the Berkeley community. As part of this effort, the Lab formed a Community Advisory Group (CAG) earlier this year to provide input on the Lab’s physical planning and development, focusing primarily on community health, safety and the environment.

The Group’s 15 members represent a diverse range of community interests, from business to health to environment. “I think we have a good group of people who have a sincere interest in the Lab and in the community and who value open and honest communication,” said Sam Chapman, Berkeley Lab’s Manager for State and Community Relations. “The Lab believes in transparency, and having an ongoing dialogue with members of the community is important to make sure we all understand each other and to improve the planning the Lab does for its future.”

With a third party acting as a facilitator, CAG meetings are open to the general public and take place approximately every two months. The most recent meeting, held last Thursday evening at the North Berkeley Senior Center, focused on the geology and geotechnical conditions of Berkeley Lab, which is situated on 200 acres in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus. Several experts described recent geological findings at the Lab site as well as the ongoing program for improving geotechnical safety.

Berkeley Lab geologist Preston Jordan gave an overview of the Lab’s geology, including recent findings from soil borings. Wayne Magnusen, a geotechnical engineer with Alan Kropp & Associates in Berkeley, explained the measures taken to meet building codes, mitigate hazards and ensure safety at the Lab. Lastly, Berkeley Lab’s chief structural engineer Fred Angliss gave an overview of the Lab’s ongoing seismic safety and upgrade program. The speakers then addressed questions and concerns from the CAG and other audience members.

Last week’s meeting also included a brief update on the facilities projects underway or currently being planned at Berkeley Lab. These include demolition of buildings in the “Old Town” section of the Lab, modernization of Building 74 as part of the overall seismic upgrade of the Lab and construction of a Low-Energy Integrated Building Systems User Facility. Many of these projects are funded in whole or part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with funds allocated by the Department of Energy.

The previous Advisory Group meeting centered on transportation issues, including parking, Berkeley Lab’s construction traffic management program and the Lab’s programs for bicyclists and ridesharing.

The next meeting will be held September 13, 7 to 9:30 p.m., also at the North Berkeley Senior Center. The topic has not yet been determined, though members of the public are encouraged to attend. Information on past CAG meetings as well as a schedule and information regarding future meetings can be found on the CAG website at: www.lbnl-cag.org.

Besides establishing the Community Advisory Group, Berkeley Lab has also recently restarted Laboratory tours. They take place once a month on Friday mornings and are open to anyone age 16 or older.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provides solutions to the world’s most urgent scientific challenges including clean energy, climate change, human health, and a better understanding of matter and force in the universe. Berkeley Lab is a world leader in improving our lives and knowledge of the world around us through innovative science, advanced computing and technology that makes a difference. Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California for the DOE Office of Science. Visit our website.

Additional Information

  • LBNL Community Advisory Group website, with agendas and summaries of all past meetings and other documents and relevant links
  • LBNL Community Relations website, with links to construction info, Lab tours and Lab documents and reports of community interest
  • Friends of Berkeley Lab (members receive a regular e-newsletter as well as early notification of all Berkeley Lab events)
  • Article on Berkeley Lab geologist Preston Jordan, with video
  • Projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at Berkeley Lab

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