Unstable hillside closes road, relocates Berkeley Lab staff

Photo: D.H. Parks

Consistent rain has destabilized the hillside above McMillan Road on the Berkeley Lab campus. Photo: D.H. Parks

Local photographer Daniel Parks recently posted some dramatic images on Flickr of a slumping hillside on the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory campus.

According to a page set up by Berkeley Lab to share news about the situation, “Consistent rain over the last few months has destabilized the hillside above McMillan Road between Buildings 17 and 71. The hillside continues to inch toward the road, which has been closed as a precaution. A potential landslide warrants the road closure and relocation of Building 46 occupants.” (See a map of the area here.)

Photo: D.H. Parks

Berkeley Lab staff in building B46 have been relocated as a precautionary measure. Photo: D.H. Parks

According to Berkeley Lab, the landslide “is being monitored by a geotechnical engineer, a geologist, a surveyor, and personnel in Facilities and EHSS. Analysis of soil samples drawn in early January will determine whether the hillside will need shoring with concrete piers or other methods.”

Workers have installed a dewatering pump to remove water from the slide area, and trenches are being used to channel water toward the pump. A barrier is being installed along the road to help divert debris.

According to the website, it “could take a substantial amount of time” to stabilize the hillside.

Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos sent a letter on Jan. 4 to occupants of the building in the landslide’s path explaining that most operations and scientific staff from building 46 were being relocated for safety reasons and borings were being conducted over coming week to gather additional data on the slide and assess its potential impact. Read the letter in full.

Related:
Mountain lion sighting forces Berkeley Lab staff to shelter in place [10.11.12]

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  • Enthaven

    And that’s what they get for ruining Strawberry Canyon

  • Guest

    Maybe the time has come for “the Lab” to consider moving to neighboring Richmond or Oakland. It is clearly unsafe to operate in the Berkeley hills any longer.

  • justsayin’

    If an earthquake happens in this rainy season with water clogged hillsides, it could add alot of added landslides/damage.

  • cer

    See video of UC geologist explaining dangers of building in Strawberry Canyon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FOmckAHpes (5-minute version) or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_e8C5FGsfM (10-minute version).