The U.S. Energy Department advised its Savannah River Site workforce and related contractors Monday of potential impacts if Congress cannot agree on a fiscal 2014 plan to keep the federal dollars flowing.
“As a consequence of the lapse, certain planned procurements may be cancelled and certain existing contracts may be stopped, reduced in scope, terminated or partially terminated,” the department said, in a letter to contractors at SRS and other facilities.
The South Carolina site houses major nuclear waste cleanup programs, the construction site of the MOX nuclear fuel plant, the Savannah River National Laboratory and other facilities – all of which rely heavily on contractor workforces.
A continued failure to agree on a budget won’t necessarily halt operations immediately, but as the flow of dollars tapers off, impacts could be felt locally within a week.
“At most DOE facilities, all operations will cease once prior year balances have been exhausted,” the department said, in a memo posted on its Web site.
Exceptions include guns, guards and gates to insure physical protection of key facilities, along with activities necessary to safeguard nuclear materials.
As part of its plan to deal with any government shutdown, the Energy Department also prepared a list of its facilities, with the number of federal employees “excepted” from any budget related shutdown.
At SRS, the memo identified eight workers from Savannah River Operations office, and one worker from the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the MOX program and the site’s tritium facility that supports nuclear warhead maintenance.
The site’s largest contractors have already been reducing their workforces over several months due to anticipated reductions in the fiscal 2014 budget – once it is adopted.
Savannah River Remediation, the site’s liquid waste contractor, laid off 465 workers in early September; and MOX contractor Shaw Areva MOX Services has said as many as 500 jobs could be eliminated to bring its workforce in line with the projected 2014 budget.