Friday, June 2, 2017

Echoes of the Manhattan Project still heard at Berkeley

A 1940 meeting at Berkeley: Ernest O. LawrenceArthur H. Compton,Vannevar BushJames B. ConantKarl T. Compton, and Alfred L. Loomis
A demolition company sued the University of California in state court for $13 million on Tuesday, claiming the university misled them about the size, scope and presence of hazardous materials at a construction site.
Dynamic Management Solutions’ lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court accuses the UC regents of misleading the company about the presence of PCBs and radioactive material in an abatement project, which slowed the pace of the project – and then firing the contractor for not fulfilling the terms of the misleading deal.
“What was represented to be a straightforward demolition and abatement project was, in reality, a highly complex and heavily regulated environmental characterization and remediation of a site that was a veritable cesspool of radioactive and other contaminated waste,” Dynamic Management says in the complaint.
The UC regents hired Dynamic Management to conduct the demolition of seven buildings in the hills above the University of California, Berkeley, campus. The area, commonly referred to as the Old Town Area, formerly housed several experiments during the World War II era, many of which involved the use of radioactive materials, neutron generation and metal plating and cleaning.
Machines designed to enrich uranium, advanced chemistry experiments and the creation of a cyclotron – now known as a particle accelerator – were all housed in some of the buildings slated for destruction.
These facts were not disclosed to Dynamic Management during the bidding process or in the subsequent contract, according to the complaint...
From time to time, such reminders give yours truly a chance to plug the 1980 BBC TV series (7 parts; 1 hour each) on Berkeley Prof. J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project, free on YouTube:

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