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Synar subcommittee to review SLAC earthquake-repair requests

STANFORD -- Stanford University will provide documents and other information to a congressional subcommittee reviewing earthquake-repair fund requests made to the Department of Energy by the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

An Aug. 13 letter from Rep. Mike Synar (D-Okla.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, asked for the material to assist in an oversight review. In an Aug. 14 reply, Stanford President Donald Kennedy assured Synar of the university's eagerness to help, and said that Burton Richter, Nobel laureate and SLAC director, would be the primary liaison with the subcommittee.

The university already had provided Synar's subcommittee with an internal audit that concluded there was no fraud or misappropriation related to damage to SLAC from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and the center's subsequent funding requests. To facilitate his subcommittee's independent review, Synar requested memos, notes, estimates, itemizations and other documents.

The university began the internal audit in March after Timothy Axe, a former facilities engineer at SLAC, alleged that some of his supervisors urged him and a colleague to inflate estimates of repairing damage from the October 1989 earthquake. Axe, 34, also said he was fired 14 months later for refusing to do so.

The internal audit found that the estimates in question were not used in requesting repair funds and that the Department of Energy had not specified appropriations for earthquake repair. Richter said that Axe "was terminated for just cause entirely unrelated to the earthquake."



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