Environmental assessment

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) completed its environmental assessment for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) and the related Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), including the investigation of potential impacts to human health and the environment, in 2015. It determined that the project will have no significant impact.

LBNF and DUNE will require the construction of buildings and research facilities at both Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, and at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) in Lead, South Dakota.

DUNE will generate a beam of neutrinos at Fermilab in Illinois, and send them 800 miles (1,300 km) straight through the earth to mile-deep detectors in South Dakota.

This fact sheet provides a summary of the proposed construction.

The U.S. Department of Energy initiated the environmental assessment in May 2013 and released the draft environmental assessment in June 2015 for public comment. Public meetings were held in Illinois and in South Dakota. In October 2015, the DOE issued the final environmental assessment and determined that the construction and operation of LBNF and DUNE will have no significant impact. The signed Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) document is also included in the final environmental assessment document as Appendix H.

The environmental assessment process

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law in 1970. It sets forth protection of the environment as a U.S. policy and requires that all federal agencies consider the potential environmental impacts of proposed projects. NEPA establishes a framework to ensure that environmental factors receive appropriate consideration along with economic and technical factors in federal agency decision-making.

Preparation of the environmental assessment for LBNF and DUNE

With the help of a number of technical experts, including independent consultants assisted by Fermilab and Sanford Lab staff, DOE prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment to determine what impacts LBNF and DUNE construction and operation might have on human health and environment. On June 8, 2015, the Department of Energy released its Draft Environmental Assessment and shared the information with local residents, public officials and the media. The public comment period ran from June 8, 2015, to July 10, 2015. Public meetings were held on June 17 in Lead, South Dakota, June 18 in Rapid City, South Dakota, and June 24 in Batavia, Illinois.

The final Environmental Assessment document (12 MB pdf file) includes a statement of project purpose and need, a description of the proposed project and alternatives, a description of the current environment, and an analysis of potential impacts to the air, sound, water, soil, safety, traffic flow and other areas of potential impact. It also includes a summary of the comments received. Opportunities to mitigate potential negative impacts will be integrated into the final project plans.

In addition to posting documents on this website, the final Environmental Assessment document and the associated Findings of No Significant Impact document have been made available to the public via mail, libraries and reading rooms as well as electronic media.

Fore more information:

Peter Siebach

LBNF/DUNE NEPA Compliance Officer, U.S. Department of Energy, Batavia IL 60510

phone +1 630-252-2007