University of California leaders announced this morning that Lawrence Berkeley National Labs has selected the Richmond Field Station as the location of its second site.
City Council members, City Manager Bill Lindsay and Congressman George Miller joined with LBNL administrators and scientists for a press meeting to discuss LBNL’s choice and the effect of the lab on Richmond. Many wore pins reading “Richmond [hearts] LBNL.”
About 200 professors will have space to work at the second site and more than 1,000 students will receive training at the lab, said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. The core work done at the second site will be in bioresearch, including the study of biofuels and genomics.
City Manager Bill Lindsay said the lab will bring both construction jobs and “green” jobs to Richmond at a time when the city has a high unemployment rate. He also spoke to the media about the connection LBNL will have to local programs and the possibility of setting up a magnet school that can benefit students interested in math and science.
Richmond was in competition with five other cities for the second site location.
“While all of the lab sites would have been excellent choices, I’m glad that Richmond was recognized for the gem it is,” Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner said.
Bruce Darling, senior vice president for university affairs, took time during his short speech to reflect on the life of Ernest Lawrence, who grew up on a farm in South Dakota and later became a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Lawrence founded a total of five national labs.
“This is really a special event to have that legacy,” said Lindsay, who added that his father worked at the Lawrence labs.
The Lawrence Berkeley National Lab has been associated with 13 Nobel Prize winners and has 4,200 employees. The lab also contributes about $700 million to the local economy, according to a media handout.
Now that the site has been chosen, the university will begin developing environmental impact studies so that it may seek final project approval from the United States Department of Energy.
Proponents of the lab hope work done at the second site will have national and international importance.
“This is a great day, this is a wonderful day for the East Bay, the citizens of Richmond and for the nation,” Miller said. “Not only are jobs going to be created in the Bay Area, but this is a signal that this nation is ready for significant research.”