USEC: ORNL extends American Centrifuge demonstration program into 2015

American Centrifuge Technology Manufacturing Center

The American Centrifuge Technology Manufacturing Center in south Oak Ridge is pictured above. (Photos courtesy USEC)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory has exercised an option to extend the American Centrifuge demonstration program into 2015, USEC announced Wednesday.

The announcement was included in a report on second quarter results, when the uranium enrichment company had a net loss of $28 million. USEC, which has operations in Oak Ridge, is undergoing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is turning over its gaseous diffusion plant in Paducah, Kentucky, to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Funding for the next-generation American Centrifuge activities was previously provided under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy. Under that cost-sharing agreement, DOE provided 80 percent of the funding, and USEC provided 20 percent for research, development, and demonstration work performed from June 1, 2012, through April 30, 2014, when the agreement expired.

On May 1, USEC signed a new agreement with UT-Battelle, which manages and operates ORNL for DOE. The agreement was called the American Centrifuge Technology Demonstration and Operations, or ACTDO, agreement, and it allows for continued cascade operations and the continuation of core American Centrifuge research and technology activities and the furnishing of related reports to ORNL, USEC said in its quarterly report.

On July 31, ORNL exercised its option to extend the period of performance for the ACTDO Agreement by an additional six months to March 31, 2015. The agreement also provides ORNL with one additional option to extend the agreement by six months to September 30, 2015. [Read more…]

ORNL could trim staff by up to 475, but officials hope for fewer cuts

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Central Campus

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s central campus is pictured above. (Courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory/U.S. Department of Energy)

With the federal budget under pressure, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has permission to reduce its staff by up to 475 employees, but officials hope they don’t have to make that many cuts.

The workforce reduction could come through what is known as a voluntary separation program, or VSP. Those who apply and are accepted would leave the payroll Dec. 31, ORNL Communications Director David Keim said Thursday.

Keim said the lab had to ask the U.S. Department of Energy for permission to make the cuts, and ORNL sought the highest number of possible reductions. [Read more…]

ORCVB budget cut: No layoffs, focusing on more events, weekend stays

Secret City Festival Kickoff 2012

The Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau is one of three organizations that present the annual Secret City Festival. ORCVB President Katy Brown is pictured above, fifth from right, at the opening ceremonies for the 2012 festival along with other state and local officials.

Its budget has been cut 25 percent, but there will be no layoffs at the Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Instead, the four-person staff will focus on attracting more weekend visitors to the Secret City and bringing in more events, possibly including those that generate fees. The organization could “own more events,” ORCVB President Katy Brown said, and rely on more grassroots efforts. That could include using more social media and travel writers.

“It’s going to be a shift,” Brown said Monday after the Oak Ridge City Council approved—in a voice vote with no opposition—a new one-year $300,000 contract for the ORCVB, the city’s main tourism organization. The funding is down from $410,000 last year. [Read more…]

Sequester scenarios: Y-12 officials no longer expect furloughs

Earlier scenarios had called for possible furloughs at the Y-12 National Security Complex in response to automatic federal budget cuts that went into effect March 1—the so-called sequester—but plant officials said they no longer expect the temporary layoffs.

However, B&W Y-12, the plant’s managing and operating contractor, said it is implementing spending reductions, including in summer intern and educational assistance programs. The company is deferring employee award benefits for services, performance, and special recognition; and suspending upgrades to personal computers, wireless projects, and the information technology infrastructure. In addition, some discretionary travel, professional development training, and materials and supplies purchases will be significantly reduced, B&W Y-12 said in a statement. [Read more…]

Sequester scenarios: DOE contractors in Tennessee could furlough 1,400, lose $90 million

Daniel B. Poneman

Daniel B. Poneman

The federal funding cuts that went into effect March 1 could result in 1,400 furloughs or layoffs for U.S. Department of Energy contractors in Tennessee, an official said this week. The furloughs could start as early as April 1.

There could also be spending reductions of about $90 million for DOE contractors in the Volunteer State, DOE Deputy Secretary Daniel B. Poneman said in a March 5 letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

Funding for contractors at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge could be cut by roughly $41 million, and more than 1,000 contractor employees could be furloughed, Poneman said.

[Read more…]

Worker hours could be cut at Y-12 in response to sequestration

Chuck Spencer

Chuck Spencer

Note: This story was updated at 8:05 p.m.

The work week at the Y-12 National Security Complex could occasionally be reduced to 30 hours for many employees between April and October as part of a budget-cutting plan announced Thursday.

Under the proposal, nonessential personnel could work three 10-hour days rather than four 10-hour days every third week. The plan has been proposed in response to the automatic federal spending cuts scheduled to start taking effect at midnight.

B&W Y-12 General Manager Chuck Spencer said the cuts would require furloughs, or temporary layoffs, for most employees.

[Read more…]

Sequester scenarios: $100 million in funding cuts at ORNL, furloughs at Y-12

Chuck Spencer

Chuck Spencer

Operating costs have already been cut by 7 percent at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and all employees are expected to report to work on Friday, even if automatic federal spending cuts go into effect at midnight.

The federal cuts could reduce lab funding by 5 percent to 8 percent, ORNL Director Thom Mason said. That could translate into $70 million to $100 million in funding cuts, depending upon how the reductions are allocated.

Meanwhile, at the Y-12 National Security Complex, the automatic spending cuts could lead to furloughs, or temporary layoffs. Democrats on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee have said between 700 and 1,000 employees could be furloughed for up to six months.

But in a Feb. 14 message to employees, B&W Y-12 General Manager Chuck Spencer did not say how many employees might be affected.

[Read more…]

Spending cuts could lead to Y-12 furloughs, ORNL reactor shutdown

Y-12 National Security Complex

Y-12 National Security Complex (Submitted photo)

A report released Wednesday said the automatic federal spending cuts set for March 1 would require furloughs at the Y-12 National Security Complex and a shutdown of the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The report was issued by Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee.

It said Y-12 would have to furlough 700-1,000 of its 4,500 employees for up to six months, and there would be hundreds of layoffs at national laboratories, universities, research facilities, and private sector companies that rely on grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science for energy research, the report said.

[Read more…]

UCOR announces 21 more subcontractor layoffs

UCOR announced that 21 staff support subcontractors were laid off Monday, and more subcontractor and trade jobs could be cut later this week.

“This is to restructure the workforce to meet our changing needs as work is completed, and also to stay within expected funding for Fiscal Year 2013,” the company said in a statement. “No UCOR employees are being affected.”

UCOR is the U.S. Department of Energy’s cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge.

[Read more…]

Forty-one workers laid off at ETTP, the former K-25 site

Note: This story was updated at 8:04 p.m.

Forty-one employees have been laid off at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, a spokesperson said Thursday.

Thirty-five employees worked on the K-25 Building demolition, and six worked on the K-27 project, said Wayne McKinney, spokesperson for UCOR, the U.S. Department of Energy’s cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge.

McKinney said the employees, who worked for subcontractors, were notified of the layoffs Thursday. He said it’s part of the normal ebb and flow of subcontracting.

[Read more…]