Facility for Rare Isotope Beams

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It’s a cold day in East Lansing, but many are braving the cold to catch a glimpse of the next major step in a $730 million nuclear physics project. 

Over the next day or so, truckload after truckload of concrete is being poured into a deep pit on the Michigan State University’s campus.

At the bottom of the 65-foot-deep trench, the concrete will form an 8-foot slab that will support a key portion of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.    

(artist's conception) / Michigan State University

Michigan State University breaks ground Monday on a major scientific research project.

The $730 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams has been in development for five years.

Thomas Glasmacher is the project director.   He says FRIB will have an impact far away from the East Lansing campus.

Congress is expected to tackle the ‘fiscal cliff’ after next month’s election.

The “fiscal cliff’s” combination of programmed tax increases and spending cuts have many people concerned, including officials at Michigan State University.

The federal government is supposed to pick up most of the cost of MSU’s new nuclear physics research lab known as the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. FRIB is expected to cost more than 600 million dollars.

Courtesy of MSU

 Michigan State University President Lou Anna Simon says she expects to announce a strategy for the shool's much anticipated F-RIB project in two to three weeks. 

 The comment comes on the heels of an encouraging federal review of critical aspects of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

Simon stresses the importance of ongoing support from Michigan legislators in Washington.

(courtesy of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams)

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow say a Senate subcommittee has significantly increased the recommended annual funding for a planned $600 million physics research facility at Michigan State University.

The Michigan Democrats said Tuesday that the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water has budgeted $30 million in the 2013 fiscal year for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

That's up from $22 million that President Barack Obama recommended Feb. 13 in his budget proposal. About $55 million in funding was stipulated by the original agreement.

Michigan State won a national competition to land the project in December 2008, and design work is under way.

Levin and Stabenow say construction of the facility will create about 5,000 construction jobs, with 400 permanent jobs after completion.

(coutresy of the MSU-Facility for Rare Isotope Beams project)

Michigan State University officials are stepping up their efforts to convince Congress to fully fund a major scientific project on the East Lansing campus.

MSU was expecting the federal government to provide 52 million dollars for the next construction phase of the ‘Facility for Rare Isotope Beams’, or ‘FRIB’ for short.  But the Obama administration is only budgeting $22 million. 

Mark Burnham is an MSU vice president for government affairs.  He says university officials are talking with influential members of Michigan’s congressional delegation , including the chairman of committee that control federal spending on technology.

"We have other members who are key important members of Congress, in both the House and the Senate, and so we want to make sure we’re working through the entire delegation," says Burnham.   

Today, a state senate committee passed a resolution encouraging Congress to fully fund the FRIB project.

The budget plan President Obama delivered to Congress today contains $22 million for Michigan State University's Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.   MSU officials originally expected $55 million.

The future of the nuclear research facility has been in some doubt since January.  The U.S. Secretary of Energy declined to promise federal funding for the project during a stop at the North American International Auto Show.     He said budget constraints had to be considered.

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees have agreed to move ahead with a half billion dollar nuclear research project, even though federal funding for the project is in some doubt.    

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams could make MSU a top location for nuclear research.  But U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu suggested earlier this month that federal officials were reevaluating budget priorities and hinted the MSU project may be one of those cut.  

(photo courtesy of MSU's Facility for Rare Isotope Beams)

The future of Michigan State University’s half billion dollar nuclear research project is somewhat in doubt. 

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu declined to discuss future federal funding for the research facility during an appearance today in Detroit. Chu says the MSU facility is one of several worthy scientific projects on the Energy Department’s drawing board. 

“But in the end it all boils down to what our budget is going to be and how do we...spend that budget," says Chu.   

The federal government approved the MSU nuclear research project in 2008.  

MSU has already started work on the half billion dollar facility, based on the federal government’s commitment to help fund the project.  

Michigan Senator Carl Levin says it would be “unconscionable if the federal government failed to live up to its commitments.”