MOX representatives have confirmed a projected 500 layoffs before Oct. 1, which is 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.

According to Wilkes, employees have been given individual dates over the next 60 days for when their layoffs will go into effect. All reductions will be complete by the federal government's new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

The 60-day layoff period mirrors the 60-day period for WARN Act notices which were issued over a period of two months. Warning notices were issued at the beginning of June.

“The 60-day WARN Act notices were issued over a period of two months to the employees impacted by the federal budget request,” Wilkes added. “It allowed them time to make transition plans, and the reductions will track with the same period of time.”

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.

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.