June 3, 2005  


Inside In The Dark

By Nina Adelman Stolar

On Wednesday, May 18, about 8:00 a.m. people found themselves literally in the dark throughout the Lab. Most headed outside to see how wide spread the problem was and find out what had happened.

Noel McMahon (CEF) stands on the fallen tree.
(Photo courtesy of CEF)

The SLAC community was very cooperative and responsive during this genuine emergency. Staff were dispatched to survey the site and began hooking up generators where there were critical needs to keep systems alive. According to Frank O’Neill (RD) “The CEF group really took a major role in securing the facility.”

O’Neill said, “We identified a number of critical areas and systematically went through the whole site.” The CEF department took great care to work safely and efficiently to provide temporary power where needed. When the decision was made to clear the site mid-day, there was no time estimate for regaining power.

Safety walk throughs had to be done building by building to be sure equipment and facilities were secure before people could reenter. The security officers were of great assistance, going through each office as buildings were cleared. According to Simon Ovrahim (SEC), “On Saturday, we had four security officers on shift and from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. we opened every office as buildings were cleared. We turned off coffee pots, heaters and the like.”

David Burke (TD) was stationed in MCC, holding meetings in the mornings, assuring that critical operations people were on site to bring the Laboratory back on line gracefully.

People really came together in this crisis. They waited to see how long it might be--standing outside, watching to see if it would begin to rain. Once PG&E surveyed the damage and provided an estimate on repairs, the decision was made to release the staff. Seemingly insignificant things can become problems in this situation. A simple problem like a leaky fridge pooling water in a hallway is magnified when it is too dark to see barricades. Some staff members put flashlights in or near restrooms, with one fellow bringing battery-powered lanterns from his car.

Ziba Mahdavi (BLS) handed out the SLAC telephone hotline number to everyone she could reach. The messages were recorded by Lee Lyon (HR), who said “We exercised the hotline, updating the message when firm information was available.” People could call in from anywhere to check the status, know when to expect the next update and to ask what was up with the paychecks.

Many people worked throughout the power outage and the subsequent days to assure your work place was ready for your return. As the weekend came to a close, the SLAC hotline gave the word: Everyone, come back to work Monday morning.


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Thursday August 04, 2005 by Topher White