Oregon State University has created a safety panel to oversee the construction of its new marine research center being built in the tsunami zone.

OSU is planning to build a new $50 million dollar marine science research center in Newport's tsunami zone.

OSU is planning to build a new $50 million dollar marine science research center in Newport’s tsunami zone.

Oregon State University

But it’s made up of academics—not engineers.

OSU President Ed Ray said the panel will make sure the building’s engineering meets earthquake and tsunami commitments.

But members of the panel include a vice president for finance, an honors college dean, a vice provost for student affairs, a government relations director, a marketing VP and an associate VP for research.

They can get advice from an OSU engineer and what the school calls an independent engineer.

But university seismologist Chris Goldfinger thinks that’s window dressing.

“The stated objective was to have an independent panel and these folks are going to be paid by OSU and therefore not independent at all. The people that are independent in this issue are the state geologic agency, DOGAMI, OSSPAC, people like that.”

The Department of Geology and Mineral Industries  (DOGAMI) and the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC) have already advised the school not to build in an area that has a 30 percent chance of being hit by a tsunami in the next 50 years.