Sanford Lab Signs Cooperative Agreement With DOE
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SURF staff and employees pose during signing DOE Office of Science coo
MATTHEW KAPUST/SURF

The South Dakota Science and Technology Authority has signed a cooperative agreement with the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Now, federal money will flow into the Sanford Underground Research Facility’s operations in Lead.

Mike Headley is the Executive Director of the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority.

“This is a really big deal for South Dakota. These cooperative agreements like this are fairly rare at this scale.”

Currently it takes more than $20 million per year to operate the Sanford underground research facility. Those expenses rose about $7 million in nearly three years.

“We really for a number of years have kind of operated on a bit of a shoestring budget. And so with Sanford Lab being expected to operate in a reliable way that really supports the science well, there are areas where we needed to add additional resources. And so it’s not only providing sufficient staff to do that, but supplies and equipment to do that and also improving some of our aging infrastructure to build and operate reliably into the future.”

The cooperative agreement funds more than $123 million split over five years. That covers operational costs and improvements to the lab’s infrastructure. Headley says agreement shows that the lab’s work on experiments like neutrinos have a place on the world stage.

“The prominence of the Sanford Lab here in South Dakota is just increasing exponentially with the type of work that we’re doing. In recognition of that and our important role in DOE’s science mission. That’s really one of the big drivers as to why they wanted to work directly with us for the success of their mission.”

Headley says it makes a big impact on the local economy and job market.