Layoffs Expected At Yucca Mountain With Budget Cuts

Contractors on the Yucca Mountain Project are preparing to lay off 60 to 80 workers in anticipation of budget cuts from Congress, officials said.

Notices were expected to be distributed in the next few days to employees of Bechtel SAIC, the chief management company of the
Energy Department nuclear waste program based in Las Vegas.

People working in accounting, finance, human resources and other
business support departments were being considered for job cuts,
company spokesman Jason Bohne said. Bechtel SAIC employs roughly
1,000 people.

Yucca officials confirmed the cutbacks a day after National Security Technologies, a contractor at the adjoining Nevada Test Site, disclosed that at least 200 workers could be laid off in the coming weeks.

In both cases, executives attributed the job threats to uncertainty when or whether Congress will pass a budget this year for the Energy Department.

Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., applauded the cutbacks for Yucca Mountain program, which is politically unpopular in the state.

"The proposed layoffs at Yucca Mountain are a welcomed sign that the repository is losing momentum," Porter said.

With a new fiscal year starting Oct. 1, the House has passed an Energy Department spending bill, but the Senate is not likely to pass it by the end of the month.

Without the certainty, Energy officials are telling contractors to tighten up.

In the case of Yucca Mountain, Energy officials expect cuts as large as $100 million below what the project is spending this year, spokesman Allen Benson said.

This would be the second round of layoffs at Bechtel SAIC this year, as three dozen people were terminated in March.

Bechtel SAIC laid off about 150 people two years ago.

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