RICHLAND -- Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is planning to cut up to 50 jobs by Oct. 1, but may be able to eliminate most of the jobs through voluntary layoffs.
The reduction is necessary after the recent completion of the Capability Replacement Laboratory project. The $300 million project lasted several years and was the largest construction project in the Department of Energy laboratory's 46-year history.
The project replaced some buildings used by PNNL in the 300 Area of the Hanford nuclear reservation near Richland with new buildings on PNNL's main campus in north Richland, and made improvements to four buildings the national lab will continue to use in the 300 Area.
"Work wrapped up this spring and while we were able to transfer some staff to other PNNL projects, there are not enough other projects or funding to employ all the staff who worked on those facilities," said PNNL spokesman Greg Koller.
In addition, PNNL is watching the development of the federal budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 as national leaders work to address the federal budget deficit. It could be a difficult year for national laboratories, although Koller said it was too soon to know what the budget would look like or if it would require any staff cuts.
The jobs now targeted for cuts are in the Operational Systems Directorate, which employs 830 people. It includes the Facilities and Operations Division, the Quality and Performance Management Division and the Environment, Health, Safety and Security Division.
"The Operational Systems Directorate reviewed a variety of options to minimize impact on staff and was unable to avoid reductions to staff," Koller said.
Staff in that directorate have been allowed to volunteer for layoffs since July 20. If PNNL approves them for layoff, they will be notified by early September and leave by the end of the month.
PNNL should know in early September if all the cuts can be made voluntarily or if involuntary layoffs will be needed.
"We have reason to hope a large percentage of those who leave the laboratory at the end of this process will be staff who self-select," Koller said.
Those who leave will receive a week of pay for each full year of service up to a maximum of 20 weeks.
PNNL now employs 4,890 people, including 444 people who work outside Richland, including in Sequim, Seattle, Portland and the Washington, D.C., area. That's an increase from the 4,008 people employed at the end of fiscal 2007, with 353 people working outside Richland.
* Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; email@example.com.