The first shots in the sequestration battle were fired Monday as Savannah River Nuclear Solutions announced that about 2,000 workers will be placed on reduced schedules starting April 1, while others will suffer “full furloughs.”


SRNS is the current management and operations contractor of the Savannah River Site.


“Consistent with DOE guidance, this memorandum serves as notification that beginning April 1, 2013, approximately 2,000 SRNS employees will be placed on 32-hour work schedules. Impacted employees will be notified by March 15, 2013,” President and CEO Dwayne Wilson wrote to employees Monday. “In select areas, full furloughs will begin on April 1, 2013. Impacted employees in these areas will be notified by next week.”


The finer details of the budget cuts are still being worked out.


Barbara Smoak, director of Business, Technical and Employee Communications for SRNS, said Monday that more information should be released in the next few days.


“The 32-hour week would be considered a reduction in the work schedule, while full furloughs are defined as an employee assigned to a non-duty status,” Smoak said.


Non-duty status means a zero-hour workweek.


The furloughs are not unexpected, as the Aiken Standard reported in mid-February that a report from the House Appropriations Committee Democrats laid out what sequestration would mean to the Department of Energy and other agencies.


“The Savannah River Site in South Carolina would furlough over 1,000 workers for approximately four months; and 4,000 to 5,000 workers' schedules would be affected across the complex. Sites will be forced to suspend and/or delay cleanup activities and shutdown facilities,” according to the report.


“Due to the uncertain and potential fluctuating amount of funding which may be available to SRNS, further furloughs may be necessary,” Wilson said. “We recognize the difficult financial implications of any furlough, and we will make every effort to keep you informed. Additional information and Q&As regarding implementation of reduced work schedules will be provided by Workforce Services this week.”


Department of Energy officials have said they have yet to get the entire picture for how SRS will be impacted, as they are waiting for an announcement from headquarters in Washington, D.C.


“While our circumstances are difficult, the SRNS mission remains; and I ask that you stay focused on the safe and secure performance of your work activities,” Wilson said.


SRS contractors Parsons and Shaw Areva Mox Services would only say they have no specific details on the looming cuts. DOE-HQ in Washington, D.C., and the National Nuclear Safety Administration also did not have any specific comment on future cuts, they said Monday.