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South Dakota Delegation Outlines Next Steps For Underground Science Lab At Homestake

Project Funding Top Priority for Delegation in Coming Years

July 12, 2007

Washington, D.C. —  United States Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune and Congressswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin today outlined next steps for securing federal funding for a Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) at the former Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota. Earlier this week, the National Science Foundation announced the selection of Homestake from a pool of four candidate sites.
In a letter to NSF Director Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr., Johnson, Thune, and Herseth Sandlin expressed their strong and unified commitment to advocating for the federal resources needed to make the underground lab a reality. In the near term, the site selection will be accompanied by NSF funds to develop and refine the laboratory proposal. The Homestake project could potentially acquire up to $5 million each year for the next three years towards lab design and development.
Following the design phase, construction of the lab proposal will be subject to future federal appropriations. The underground lab will be funded via the NSF's Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) Account, and will be competing against other NSF proposals. Preliminary estimates place the start up and construction cost of the lab at around $300 million.
The full text of the letter is reprinted below:


July 12, 2007

Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr.
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22230

Dear Dr. Bement:

We write to congratulate the National Science Foundation (NSF) on its recent decision to locate a Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) at the former Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota. We believe the NSF made a sound decision in affirming Homestake's superior potential to generate valuable new knowledge through deep underground scientific research.

Now that the site-selection process has been completed, we would like to take this opportunity to express our unified and strong commitment to work with your agency to make the DUSEL a reality. As you know, the Homestake team is now expected to receive up to $5 million for each of the next three years to facilitate a more detailed design for the planned facility. The design's completion will pave the way for the laboratory's ultimate construction, which we expect to require additional funding through the NSF's Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction Account. We are aware that this will require congressional support and leadership during the process of appropriating federal funds, and we look forward to serving as strong advocates for the DUSEL.

Though the opening of a new DUSEL at Homestake will not be assured until federal funds are appropriated and other preparatory steps occur as planned, we share the NSF's optimism that the merits of this project will bring it to fruition. In addition, we are optimistic about the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority's plan to construct an interim state-owned Sanford Laboratory at the mine's 4850 foot level, as this will accelerate the timeframe in which scientists can re-enter the mine.

Again, please accept our congratulations on the completion of the site-selection process, and know we stand ready to help ensure that the unmatched scientific promise of the DUSEL at Homestake is fulfilled.


Tim Johnson   John Thune    Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
U.S. Senate   U.S. Senate   Member of Congress