Y-12 begins ‘orderly shutdown’ because of budget situation; details on furloughs not yet available

y12Y-12 General Manager Chuck Spencer today informed workers that the contractor has been told to begin an “orderly shutdown” of operations at the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons plant because of the federal budget situation.

There were no immediate details regarding furloughs at the plant, but Spencer said human resources is “developing answers to address what we realize will be very valid and important questions about benefits and other concerns during this time.” More information will be forthcoming. B&W Y-12 has about 4,800 employees.

“I recognize this is troubling news and that it may likely have a significant impact on you and your family,” Spencer said in the message to employees. “We can only hope that the need for furloughs will be averted or that they will be short-lived.”

Here is the full text of his message:

“Safety and security are our highest national priorities, and since Congress has not passed an appropriations act and given the continued uncertainty, it is prudent that we act to ensure extended safe and secure operations of our sites.  To that end, we have received direction from the Acting NNSA Administrator (Bruce Held) to initiate an orderly shutdown in support of, at a minimum, obtaining safe and secure status.

“We will follow up soon with additional details for what our plan will look like and expect to notify impacted individuals beginning this week or next week. This is the same situation that many folks elsewhere in the government have already been experiencing.

“Human Resources is developing answers to address what we realize will be very valid and important questions about benefits and other concerns during this time, and you will be receiving more information in the coming days.

“I recognize this is troubling news and that it may likely have a significant impact on you and your family.  We can only hope that the need for furloughs will be averted or that they will be short-lived.  In the meantime I ask you to focus on that which you can control and help place Y-12 in the best condition possible to ensure an orderly and timely return to operations.

“Thank you for your commitment to safety and security and your dedication to our vital mission. I look forward to discussing this further at our All Hands Meeting tomorrow.”

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.