MOX's 60-day layoff warning period is coming to an end. According to Associated Press reports on June 4, warning notices on potential layoffs were issued out to a number of MOX employees approximately two months ago.
Shaw AREVA MOX Services employees were warned that layoffs could be coming down the line if the proposed federal budget did not include adequate funding for the mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility.
The budget request to Congress from President Barack Obama's administration seeks $503 million for programs with most of it earmarked for the MOX plant, but that's approximately $200 million less than what was provided in last year's continuing resolution. In addition, the proposed budget will cut an additional $100 million in funding from SRS, which could also mean another hit to the MOX facility. Because of that, Shaw AREVA MOX Services is spending less money.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires most employers with 100 or more employees to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
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.
As of now, the federal government has yet to pass a budget, leaving a lot of uncertainty about the MOX facility.
The MOX plant, which is under construction at the Savannah River Site, will 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 Obama administration has said that high costs “may make the project unaffordable” and that it would consider other possible ways to honor the agreement with Russia and dispose of plutonium.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a journalism degree in May 2012.