Fermilab Today Tuesday, September 19, 2007

ILC Citizens' Task Force tours underground tunnels

Fermilab's Dixon Bogert (pictured with flashlight) gives members of the ILC Citizens' Task Force a tour of the NuMI tunnel on Saturday.
PPD's Greg Bock gives a tour to ILC Citizens' Task Force members in the MINOS near detector underground hall.
Members of the ILC Citizen's Task Force in the NuMI beam line.

Community leaders and media representatives went underground and toured the NuMI tunnel and halls Saturday to get an up close look at how civil engineering and science go hand in hand.

It also could be a glimpse of the future for Fermilab and its neighbors.

If Fermilab were to host the International Linear Collider, its construction would replicate many elements of the NuMI complex, from access shafts to large assembly areas to tunnels dug by a tunnel boring machine.

Members of the ILC Citizens' Task Force, who provide input on the planning and design of the ILC at Fermilab, were invited by the laboratory to view the 4,000-foot-long NuMI tunnel to get an understanding of what could sit under their communities. The tunnel, which reaches a depth of about 350 feet, offers the closest approximation to what the ILC construction would require based on still evolving design plans.

The group of nearly 40 people asked questions about the complexity of digging a tunnel through five layers of earth including clay, sandstone and rock. They viewed the access shafts into the tunnel and commented that surface buildings were less obtrusive than task force members had expected.

The ILC likely would have similar access shafts to lower people and machines into the tunnel, with buildings covering the shafts and serving as staging areas. Task force members are working with Fermilab to develop recommendations on how to select the location of access shafts for the ILC and how to design the buildings surrounding each access shaft.

Reporters asked about the noise caused by the digging of the NuMI tunnels and shafts. While neighbors did not hear the drilling of the tunnel boring machine, they occasionally heard the blasting for the access shafts. In the case of the ILC, its 20-mile-long tunnels would be about 350 feet underground. Neighbors living straight above the tunnel might hear the tunnel boring machine for a few days as it progresses, at a rate of about 300 feet per day.

Since January, Fermilab has been meeting with task force members, who include area school leaders, elected officials, neighbors and opponents of large accelerator projects. Working with the neighboring communities, Fermilab hopes to make the project design process as open as possible.

-- Tona Kunz

Fermi National Accelerator - Office of Science / U.S. Department of Energy | Managed by Fermi Research Alliance, LLC.