Environmental Assessment

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has authorized the commencement of initial project planning for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment, part of which is an investigation of the potential impacts to human health and the environment. This webpage outlines the Environmental Assessment process for the LBNE project.

The proposed Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment would send neutrinos straight through the earth from Batavia, Illinois, to Lead, South Dakota. No tunnel would be necessary for this 1,300-km (800-mile) trip.
Credit: Sandbox Studios

Start of 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. Accordingly, an Environmental Assessment document will be prepared for the LBNE.

The LBNE project would require the construction of buildings and research facilities at both Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, lllinois, and at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) in Lead, South Dakota. Information about the LBNE project and the Environmental Assessment process is being distributed through letters, fact sheets and this website. DOE will hold public informational meetings (all from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.):

  • May 23, 2013 at Fermilab's Wilson Hall, Kirk Road and Pine Street, Batavia Illinois
  • June 25, 2013 at the Days Inn, 900 Miners Ave, Lead, South Dakota
  • June 26, 2013 at the Best Western Ramkota, 2111 North LaCrosse St, Rapid City, South Dakota

Preparation of the Draft Environmental Assessment

With the help of a number of technical experts, including independent consultants assisted by Fermilab and Sanford Lab staff, DOE will prepare an environmental assessment to determine what impacts LBNE construction and operation might have on human health and environment. Documentation will include 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 impact areas. Opportunities to mitigate any negative impacts that may exist would be integrated into the project plans. The project team will present all these aspects in a Draft Environmental Assessment document.

Public Comment

DOE will make the Draft Environmental Assessment document available to stakeholders in print and electronic form. It will be distributed via mail, posted in libraries and public reading rooms and shared through websites, e-mail and other electronic media. In addition, public meetings are planned at Fermilab and at a central location in South Dakota, likely during the latter half of 2013, to share the draft. The public will be able to provide comments either at these meetings or by submitting them in writing. The release and distribution of the draft document will include information on the dates of these public meetings and the ways that people can submit comments.

Preparation of the Final Environmental Assessment

After considering all comments, DOE will prepare a Final Environmental Assessment document. A record of the comments received will be contained within the document.


If the Final Environmental Assessment indicates no significant environmental impacts, DOE will issue a statement known as a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). DOE will make the Final Environmental Assessment document and the associated FONSI available via mail, libraries and reading rooms as well as electronic media. If the Final Environmental Assessment indicates that potentially significant environmental impacts are likely to occur, a more extensive environmental review, referred to as an Environmental Impact Statement, will be undertaken to more fully explore those impacts. Additional public outreach opportunities would also be planned.

More information

For more information contact:

Peter Siebach
U.S. Department of Energy (STS)
9800 South Cass Avenue
Argonne, IL 60439
Phone: 630-252-2007
E-mail: peter.siebach@ch.doe.gov

Or send e-mail to the LBNE project team:

Last modified: 05/14/2013 |