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Energy Department Outlines Potential Environmental Impacts on Seven Sites

August 27, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Department of Energy says construction of the superconducting super collider will require about 100 miles of new roads if the massive atom smasher is built in Arizona or Colorado.

By contrast, the project will need only eight to 10 miles of new roads if it is built in Illinois or Michigan. But up to 2,800 acres of valuable wetlands could be affected by construction work at the Michigan site.

These were among findings presented in a draft environmental impact report released Friday by the department as part of a process expected to result in selection of a site for the super collider early next year.

Other states vying for the $4.4 billion research project are North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

The collider will be a 53-mile-circumference, underground ring of magnets capable of whipping proton beams into each other with 20 times the force of the world’s most powerful existing accelerator.

Scientists hope to learn more about the nature of matter from studying the subatomic particles created by the proton collisions.

The project is expected to generate thousands of construction jobs, provide permanent employment for as many as 3,000 people and have an operating budget of $280 million.

Supporters argue that the super collider is needed to keep the United States competitive in the next century, while opponents say the project would siphon much-needed money from other scientific research.

The environmental impact statement presented data about the collider’s anticipated impact at each of the seven site alternatives on water resources, air quality, ecological resources, socioeconomics and infrastructure.

The statement did not rank the seven sites in terms of overall advantages and disadvantages.

The document noted that in addition to some detrimental effects on environment, ″the SSC would also have beneficial impacts at all of the site alternatives. Many job opportunities would be created, both during construction and operations; local businesses would also benefit.″

″The SSC is expected to have a beneficial impact on community, socioeconomic and educational standards as experienced at Fermilab, a national accelerator in Batavia, Ill., where there has been an influx of highly trained scientists into the area,″ it said.

The report pointed to environmental impacts including:

WATER RESOURCES - Water wells lost due to construction of the project: Arizona, none; Colorado, 18; Illinois, 320; Michigan, 80; North Carolina, 9; Tennessee, 350; Texas, 2.

ECOLOGICAL RESOURCES - Wetlands affected by construction: Arizona, none; Colorado, 20 acres; Illinois, 850 acres; Michigan, 2,800 acres; North Carolina, 258 acres; Tennessee, less than 10 acres; Texas, less than 10 acres.

Threatened and endangered species whose habitat could be lost: Arizona, Tuamoc globeberry; Colorado, bald eagle; Illinois, prairie brush clover and Indiana bat; Michigan, Indiana bat; North Carolina, none; Tennessee, purple coneflower and Indiana bat; Texas, black-capped vireo.

SOCIOECONOMICS - Total peak-year jobs during construction, both from direct employment at the super collider and other jobs that would be created due to the project: Arizona, 9,586; Colorado, 9,935; Illinois, 10,996; Michigan, 9,665; North Carolina, 9,717; Tennessee, 9,531; Texas, 9,651.

INFRASTRUCTURE - New roads that would have to be built: Arizona, 101 miles; Colorado, 94; Illinois, 8; Michigan, 10; North Carolina, 38; Tennessee, 13; Texas, 31.

New power lines that would be required to reach super collider substations: Arizona, 41 miles; Colorado, 99; Illinois, 2; Michigan, 6; North Carolina, 4; Tennessee, 32; Texas, 5.

The draft environmental impact statement was issued for a 45-day public review period set to begin Sept. 2 and end Oct. 17.

Public hearings are scheduled for Sept. 26 in Stockbridge, Mich., and Waxahachie, Texas; Sept. 29 in Fort Morgan, Colo., and Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Oct. 3 in Butner, N.C., and Tempe, Ariz., and Oct. 6 in Aurora, Ill.

After consideration of comments on the draft document, DOE plans to identify a preferred site in November, issue a final environmental impact statement in December and announce the final site selection in January 1989.

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