Approximately 1,400 employees of Savannah River Remediation, the liquid waste contractor for the Savannah River Site, are furloughed until further notice. About 360 employees will remain to maintain facilities.

Savannah River Remediation President and Project Manager Ken Rueter sent an email notifying employees of the furloughs on Thursday. The email states the furloughs are a direct result of the federal government shutdown.

“Although the Department (of Energy) has been able to fund some continued activity for this contract following that date, the continued lapse in appropriations is having a significant impact on continued operations requiring us to make certain employment decisions,” Rueter's email reads. “Therefore, some Savannah River Remediation employees will be furloughed until further notice. Like you, we do not know how long this shutdown will continue.”

Employees with positive time bank balances can use their balance or can take time off without pay. Once the leave bank balance is reduced to zero, they have been instructed to enter “Time Off Without Pay.” Employees with negative time bank balances must take time off without pay.

Affected employees are encouraged to visit or call the Site information line, 803-725-SITE (803-725-7483), for more information on when to return to work.

Following the announcement, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., introduced legislation to fund the DOE offices of Environmental Management and National Nuclear Security Administration in accordance with prior years' levels.

“SRS plays a tremendous role in protecting our national security and should not be forced to limit operations,” Wilson said. “By introducing this legislation, I am hopeful for its passage so that our national security projects will remain intact with a full workforce.”

The furloughs come less than a month after Savannah River Remediation announced 465 layoffs to its staff.

Savannah River Remediation is comprised of a team of companies led by URS Corp. with partners Bechtel National, CH2M HILL and Babcock & Wilcox. Important subcontractors for the contract include AREVA, Energy Solutions and URS Professional Solutions.

Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June.