Today at Berkeley Lab

Farewell Bevatron: Massive Demolition Effort Nears the End

After about three and a half years of work, the demolition of the Bevatron is scheduled for completion at the end of the month. The Herculean task of tearing down the venerable machine generated some impressive stats: 37,200 tons of waste, 18,600 tons of concrete, 15,200 tons of metals, and 1,908 cubic yards of soil.

Some other more unusual materials were unearthed during the process, as well. A “time capsule” was discovered near the accelerator magnet that included the front pages of several local newspapers, two photos of Bevatron technicians (included in slideshow), and, oddly, a scathing Time magazine review of the movie Tarzan starring Bo Derek, all from August 1981.

Two of the men pictured in the photos still work at the Lab — Ted Sopher of the IT Division and Stephen Wilde of Engineering. Thirty years ago, both worked on a major undertaking “intended to breathe new life” into the machine. A continuous liner was installed, which improved the vacuum and allowed an increase of the types and quantity of experiments that could be done.

Showing the signs of the times, an Oakland Tribune headline screamed “Medfly Found in Livermore,” while the Contra Costa Times featured a large photo of a beaming, cowboy-booted Ronald Reagan that accompanied a story about his signing of a package to cut taxes and the budget.

Fast forward to 2008, when the Facilities Division started the demolition. The project involved six significant steps: rerouting and isolating utilities, abating hazardous materials, removing the accelerator’s shielding, demolishing the structure’s metal frame, removing the shallow foundations and tunnels, and finally, remediating the soils and backfilling.

All was done with more than 80-percent recycle efficiency, on schedule, and about five percent under budget. It cost around $9 million to build the structure and about $50 million to take it down. There were also zero recordable injuries.

“While the budget was ultimately set at $50million, some of us remember the early stage of the project when the range was projected to be $67million to $84 million,” said Lab Chief Operating Officer Jim Krupnick. “The fact that this team was able to accomplish the original scope for less then $50 million is remarkable, and a testament to the project management team of Joe Harkins, Jerry O’Hearn, and Bob Cronin.”

This is the first large accelerator demolition project ever conducted in the Office of Science, added Krupnick, so the Lab will be able to provide many lessons-learned to the rest of the DOE complex.

The site will soon enter its next phase with the installation of a parking lot that will provide about 150 spaces for employees and a staging area for the CRT construction project. In the future, it may serve as the potential site for a Next Generation Light Source (NGLS).

The Bevatron — a synchrotron that could accelerate protons up to 6.5 billion electron volts of energy — was most famous for its role in the discovery of the antiproton and as the launching pad for four of the Lab’s Nobel prizes. It operated from 1954 to 1993.

A farewell event was held in 2009, which brought nearly 200 former employees back to the Lab to say goodbye. Go here to read a story on the event, view a photo slide show, and watch a video of the presentation.