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Future Uncertain For Sanford Underground Lab

December 9, 2010, 10:03 PM by Austin Hoffman

Future Uncertain For Sanford Underground Lab
LEAD, SD - The future of the Sanford Underground Lab at Homestake mine is in question.

The National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, decided to drop funding that the lab was counting on next spring.

Funding for the Sanford Underground Lab hasn't exactly been steady. Which is why recently finding out it won't receive 29 million dollars it was expecting this spring from the National Science Foundation is so disappointing.

"This is just one hurdle, just like a number of other hurdles in the future, we have to overcome if we want it to be successful. We thought we already overcame the hurdle so the National Science Board is really throwing us a curve ball," Governor Mike Rounds said.

The money was supposed to be for design work, but Governor Rounds said they're still optimistic.

"We think we can resolve it with the Dept. of Energy and the President office of Science technology who are clearly in agreement with us that this needs to move forward," Rounds said.

Which Governor Rounds said is what the National Science Board wants to see. That board oversees the foundation's money.

Communication Director for the lab, Bill Harlan, said even without this funding, there is some money to use.

"We are funded through the South Dakota Science and Technology authority and our funding is secure through well into next year," Harlan said.

But come thing spring, federal funds were supposed to take over for state funds. And without them, Governor Rounds said it might be difficult to keep top notch employees at the lab.

“We've got an A team out there and these folks want to be reassured they've got a job and some job security and when you're dealing with this kind of an on again off again funding, it makes it more difficult to keep those quality individuals working for a laboratory," Gov. Rounds said.

Harlan said the past ten years have been a rollercoaster for the lab and he's not surprised they've hit one more speed bump along the way.

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