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National Science Foundation picks South Dakota site for underground lab


The National Science Foundation today picked the former Homestake Gold Mine in the Black Hills of South Dakota as the site to be developed into a national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, concluding a six-year selection process.

Three other sites, including Pioneer Tunnel site under Cowboy Mountain, just off U.S. 2 near Stevens Pass in the Washington Cascades, were eliminated from consideration. The other two sites were in Colorado and Minnesota.

Wick Haxton, a University of Washington physics professor, led the campaign for the Pioneer Tunnel site. Six years ago he was among the leaders of a broad coalition in the physics community who supported construction of the deep underground national lab at Homestake. However, delays at Homestake and the discovery of a horizontal-entry site in Washington State led him to develop a proposal for the Pioneer Tunnel.

“There were good arguments in favor of all four sites,” Haxton said. “The selection committee helping the National Science Foundation was very fair to our group. We support the final decision and will offer to help our colleagues in South Dakota.”

The science foundation decision includes $15 million over three years to design the laboratory.


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