Hanford lab layoff plan announced

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldMay 13, 2014 

Employees at Hanford's Waste Sampling and Characterization Facility were given layoff details Tuesday after the Department of Energy's order to shut down the laboratory.

Up to 75 workers will be gone by Sept. 25, according to a memo sent to workers at the lab by Mission Support Alliance.

The Hanford contractor said earlier this spring that about 60 employees of RJ Lee, its subcontractor, work at the lab. In addition, about 18 Mission Support Alliance workers support lab work.

Workers at the lab can volunteer for layoffs between June 16 and 27. They might be eligible for severance pay, but possible benefits vary for union and nonunion and Mission Support Alliance and RJ Lee employees.

Mission Support Alliance workers not assigned to the lab may not volunteer for layoffs, according to information provided to lab employees.

Workers approved for voluntary layoffs will be notified July 8, but they could continue to work until Sept. 25. Some workers will be needed to help close and secure the lab.

On Sept. 2, layoff notices for additional workers are expected to be delivered, and workers being involuntarily laid off will be off the payroll Sept. 11.

Mission Support Alliance is working to find jobs for its direct employees on other Hanford projects under its contract, said spokeswoman Deanna Hawkins.

The lab also employs many longtime union employees who might be eligible to take the job of an employee elsewhere at Hanford with less longevity in a "bump and roll."

DOE announced in March that it plans to stop operating the Waste Sampling and Characterization Facility in central Hanford to save money. An average savings of $12 million a year is anticipated by DOE, mostly from eliminating the cost of maintaining and operating the 40,000-square-foot lab.

It was built in the early 1990s and opened in 1994 to analyze samples of air, water, soil, vapor and sludge with trace amounts of chemicals and radioactive materials. The samples are gathered from Hanford surveillance and monitoring and from environmental cleanup work.

DOE contractor Washington Closure Hanford already has been sending its samples offsite and other Hanford contractors also will be sending their samples offsite for analysis. However, the 222-S Laboratory in central Hanford will continue to handle samples of high-level radioactive waste from Hanford waste tanks.

Mission Support Alliance also has announced plans for a job fair to hire some temporary employees for other projects.

It is looking for heavy-truck drivers, carpenters and instrument technicians. A job fair is planned from 8 to 10 a.m. Monday at WorkSource, 815 N. Kellogg St., Kennewick. Candidates will be invited back in the afternoon for interviews and drug screening.

Applicants should apply online at msa.hanford.gov/hr and should bring a resume, license or certification information, a 10-year employment history with supervisor contacts, references and addresses for the past five years. Truck drivers will need a driver's abstract.

-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; acary@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @HanfordNews

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