Sequestration cuts could force Savannah River Site contractors to furlough or lay off as many as 2,180 workers, according to new U.S. Energy Department projections shared Tuesday with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
“As a result of sequestration, the department’s overall budget has been reduced by $1.9 billion for the remainder of the fiscal year,” Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel B. Poneman said, in a letter to Haley.
Those impacts, based on a preliminary analysis, translate to $107 million in direct reductions for the department’s contractors in South Carolina, he said.
“As a result of this decrease in funding, we understand that contractors may be forced to furlough or lay off more than 2,180 employees in South Carolina as early as April 1, 2013,” the letter said.
Although the estimates prepared at department headquarters involved furloughs and layoffs, the site’s primary contractor – Savannah River Nuclear Solutions – announced earlier this week it intends to reduce work schedules for 2,000 employees to mitigate the impact of the cuts. The schedule cuts would place affected workers on 32-hour work weeks, beginning April 1.
Savannah River Site’s total workforce is about 11,400, which includes federal employees and contractors, along with National Nuclear Security Administration operations that include the Mixed Oxide Fuel Facility, or MOX project, and the site’s tritium program, which supports the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal.
Until more is known, it remains unclear exactly how contractors will be affected by the broad cuts, site spokesman Bill Taylor said.
“I don’t think we as a site have narrowed everything down to the specifics,” he said. “Everyone is still examining where best to balance our missions with people’s needs and still protect the workforce.”