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Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Friends of Berkeley Hiking Trail|Take On Laser Accelerator Project

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Save Strawberry Canyon, a nonprofit trying to protect a popular hiking trail in the woods above UC Berkeley, wants to stop the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory from building its Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator. The group claims the atomic project would put "a uniquely powerful, radiation-emitting, laser accelerator about 500 feet from homes and a children's museum."

The group claims the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its governmental parent, the Department of Energy, did not prepare a proper environmental impact statement or consider the hazardous effects of radiation on residents and wildlife.

Save Strawberry Canyon says radiation from the lab's particle accelerator, intended to "'provide intense energy beams for scientific and technological research,'" endangers neighboring homes, the children's science museum and the project site itself: a rugged, forested canyon above the University of California, Berkeley.

A longtime favorite hiking ground for locals and tourists, Strawberry Canyon is home to several species of endangered birds, mountain lions, gray foxes and amphibians and reptiles.

The lab's environmental assessment claims the project's environmental effects will be insignificant, yet "makes virtually no effort to address" potential radiation emissions, according to the federal complaint.

"The [assessment] also makes conclusory assertions that radiation levels would be safe for workers, but by itself this gives no assurance that the project operation would be safe for the public," the complaint states.

The group claims the lab never explained how it intends to dispose of the radioactive materials the particle accelerator will create, or how the canyon and local residents will be protected from radiation in the event of an earthquake.

Save Strawberry Canyon wants the project enjoined until the defendants have prepared an environmental impact statement that complies with the National Environmental Policy Act. Save Strawberry Canyon is represented by Stephan Volker of Oakland.

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