Public can voice opinions about collider at meeting

By Stephanie Bradley

Citizens in nearby counties will have the opportunity to voice their opinions about the Superconductor Supercollider project, for which Illinois is one of seven finalists.

The U.S. Department of Energy will make a final decision on which state will receive the collider in July.

The scoping meeting on Feb.18 is one of five that have been conducted, said Brian Quirke, Public Information Officer for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The meeting is designed to allow the public to ask questions and voice opinions they have concerning the project, which would be built at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Batavia, Illinois, if the state is selected, Quirke said.

How the project will affect the land and the economic status of the area are issues Quirke expects will be raised. Similar meetings will be held in the six other states under consideration for the collider project.

The comments made by residents will be considered, along with written statements citizens wish to submit, when the Department of Energy submits its Environmental Impact Statement.

The meeting will include the state’s proposal, three presentations by energy department representatives and a period for participants to ask questions.

Public opinion has played a major part in some states’ decisions to stay in or drop out of the race. New York Gov. Mario Cuomo was forced to remove the state from the running after citizens protested against it, said Bob Welling, press secretary for Rep. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

Hastert is in favor of the collider project, Welling said. “It would be incredible growth for the counties.”

The project would require a seven-year construction period. Welling said it would bring international scientific attention to the area.

He said some citizens might be opposed to the project because there would be some home relocation involved. However, Welling said he expects most citizens will be in favor of the collider because its prototype has existed at Fermilab for several years and citizens know what it is about.

The scoping meeting will be held from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 18 at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois.