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More Hanford Job Cuts Not Expected

Sun., June 18, 1995

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation work force should remain stable at 14,000 people through September 1997 unless Congress makes budget cuts, a key official says.

Hanford manager John Wagoner apologized Friday for a memorandum to the Hanford Advisory Board two weeks earlier that predicted a total of 7,700 job reductions by October 1996.

Plans for 4,800 job reductions have been announced, and 3,000 of those positions have already been eliminated, he said.

“I don’t see right now the original estimate of about 4,800 being significantly different,” Wagoner said.

“I realize a lot of anguish has resulted from budget background information that indicated 3,000 more job reductions,” he said. “The point we’ve tried to make since is that wasn’t a proposal and it’s not accurate.”

The memo was based on an early and faulty analysis of the Energy Department’s preliminary 1996-97 budget proposal, Wagoner said.

“The difficulty is trying to be precise,” Wagoner said. The estimated loss of 7,700 jobs “was the best I can do … to share (with the public) a messy budget process with data that’s not fully scrubbed.”

If Congress authorizes $1.2 billion for Hanford cleanup in fiscal ‘97, which begins Oct. 1, 1996, no job cuts in addition to the 4,800 previously announced are expected, Wagoner said.

But more jobs may be eliminated if Congress makes anticipated cuts, he said. The numbers cannot be predicted yet, he explained.

Wagoner also admitted he erred in a briefing to the department’s cleanup chief, Tom Grumbly, on work that could be done in fiscal 1997 if Hanford’s budget is trimmed $1.2 billion and the work force cut by 7,700.

The House approved and sent to the Senate legislation this week to cut the department’s overall cleanup request of $5.26 billion by $742 million, including $175 million from Hanford.

In a letter dated Thursday to Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., Grumbly said that big a cut would mean more job losses at Hanford.

Congress wants the cuts to come from department headquarters rather than from cleanup, Hastings said.

“Practically speaking, that’s more money than could be cut from headquarters,” Wagoner warned.

xxxx Cleanup to include: Under the department’s proposed spending levels, Hanford cleanup work in the two years beginning Oct. 1 would include: Construction of a storage building for spent reactor fuel, which remains highly radioactive and is now stored in the K Basins. Plans call for treatment to make the spent fuel safe for longterm dry storage by 2001. Stabilization of all high-risk plutonium in the Plutonium Finishing Plant for safe storage by 2002. Shutdown of the Fast Flux Test Facility. Reduction of maintenance needs at the old plutonium-uranium extraction plant, known as PUREX, from $34 million to $1.8 million by 1997. Deactivation of the N Reactor, treatment of 116 million gallons of contaminated groundwater, removal of 44,000 pounds of carbon tetrachloride and restoration of 65 square miles along the Columbia River for other uses.

Tags: Employment

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