MOX representatives have confirmed a projected 500 layoffs before Oct. 1 at the $7.7 billion plutonium fuel recycling plant under construction at Savannah River Site. The cuts are a response to the proposed federal budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
“As part of a plan to address a federal budget shortfall for fiscal year 2014, a staffing reduction has begun at the MOX project,” said representative Bryan Wilkes.
Employees have been given individual dates over the next 60 days for when their layoffs will go into effect, Wilkes said. All reductions will be complete by the beginning of the federal government’s new fiscal year, Oct. 1.
In April, President Barack Obama released a budget plan that questioned the need to build the mixed oxide fuel factory and proposed cuts of about $117 million for the facility, commonly known as the MOX plant.
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Employees were given 60-day warning notices at the beginning of June, Wilkes said.
“It allowed them time to make transition plans,” he said.
The MOX plant currently employs approximately 2,300 workers, and is designed to turn weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear reactor fuel. Its work is part of a nonproliferation effort between the United States and Russia to dispose of at least 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium.
The plant is about 60 percent complete, but the project has undergone years of cost overruns and delays. The Government Accountability Office reported in June that the plant is $3 billion over budget, costing an estimated $7.7 billion.