Going Underground in Singapore

Singapore has plans to build a massive Underground Science City (USC) housing R&D laboratories and IT data centres. A delegation involved in the planning to build the subterranean complex visited CERN on 18 October 2010 to learn from civil engineers and safety experts about how CERN plans and constructs its underground facilities.


The delegation from Singapore.

The various bodies and corporations working on the USC project are currently studying the feasibility of constructing up to 40 caverns (60 m below ground) similar in size to an LHC experiment hall, in a similar type of rock. Civil engineering and geotechnical experts are calculating the maximum size of the cavern complex that can be safely built. The complex could one day accommodate between 3000 and 5000 workers on a daily basis, so typical issues of size and number of access shafts need to be carefully studied.

At first glance, you might not think the LHC has much in common with the USC project; as Rolf Heuer pointed out: “CERN tries to keep the number of personnel underground to an absolute minimum, whereas you're going to open up the caverns to huge numbers”. However, many issues are remarkably similar, such as environmental impact studies, international procurement strategy for the various consultants and contractors, and safety aspects like emergency escape shafts, fire detection, access control and ventilation systems, etc.

“We are more than happy to share some of the lessons learnt during the LHC construction and from the feasibility challenges we are facing for future underground projects like CLIC” explained CERN head of civil engineering, John Osborne.

After a fruitful exchange, the delegation visited the CMS site at Cessy, including the above-ground control room and the Underground Service Cavern, also called USC !

by John Osborne (GS/SEM)