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UC picks Richmond site for expansion of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

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POSTED January 23, 2012 7:09 p.m.

RICHMOND (AP) — The University of California said Monday that it has picked the spot where it hopes to build a new branch of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and it's in the city of Richmond, not Berkeley.

Barring environmental problems or opposition from the U.S. Department of Energy, the lab's new biosciences division will be located on the 152-acre waterfront site of a teaching and research facility, the university said. The university already owns the site in Richmond, six miles north of the UC Berkeley campus.

Five other Bay Area cities — Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland — had submitted proposals in hopes of luring the project as a way to create jobs and spillover spending, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Lab officials said the Richmond field station best met the university's need for more space and desire to maintain a close working relationship with UC Berkeley.

The existing lab, located in the hills above UC Berkeley, conducts nonmilitary research under contract from the Energy Department. Its staff of about 4,200 works in areas such as alternative energy, climate change, the human genome and advanced physics.

To move forward, the preferred site still must pass an environmental impact review and obtain federal approval.

The project would be a potential economic boon for Richmond, which has higher rates of poverty and violence that many Bay Area cities. A report the lab commissioned in 2009 said Lawrence Berkeley National Lab spent about $201 million and generated more than 1,700 jobs just in Berkeley.

 

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