WASHINGTON — A second major Yucca Mountain contractor confirmed Wednesday that it was preparing layoffs on the nuclear waste project over the next few months.
Fifty-three workers in Las Vegas associated with Sandia National Laboratories face job actions starting in October, spokesman Michael Padilla said.
Of the total, 50 are employed by subcontractors while three are Sandia employees who will be reassigned elsewhere in the New Mexico-based science organization, he said.
Job cuts will include administrative workers and some in the quality assurance branch, Padilla said. Sandia National Laboratories is the lead science and technical group on the project, which is forming plans to establish a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
Earlier this week, officials with Bechtel SAIC, the prime operations contractor at Yucca Mountain, said they were preparing to lay off between 60 and 80 people in the face of anticipated budget cuts. A formal announcement will be made today, DOE officials said.
Likewise, Sandia anticipates a 40 percent reduction in its allocation from the Energy Department for the fiscal year 2008 that begins Oct. 1, Padilla said.
Sandia will be given $75 million for its 2008 budget, while this year it has $123 million, he said.
Yucca Mountain layoffs had been expected.
Ward Sproat, the director of the Energy Department Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, said in March that the Yucca program in 2007 was burning through $100 million in carryover on top of its approved budget of $444.5 million. So even if Congress fully funded the project in 2008, it would come up short for the year, he said.
At the same time it faces budget shortfalls, DOE continues to revise the Yucca work force, favoring technical personnel who are compiling a repository license application that officials have said will be ready by June 30.
“The main thing for this is that we are refocusing our work,” Padilla said. “We are focusing now on applying for the license application.”More about Yucca Mountain