Sequester Shackles Nuclear Cleanup!
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!…
Deep sequestration cutbacks force dramatic layoffs in nuclear waste cleanup efforts at Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the nation’s largest nuclear contamination site.
Inevitable plutonium pollution of the nearby Columbia River is now certain… to glow Cherenkov blue at night.
Toxic waste containers will blow any day. We are all gonna die!
OK… maybe I slightly exaggerated a teensy-weensy little bit more than President Obama would, but here is a real and more enlightening story about sequestration driven layoffs at Hanford:
“Sequester Layoffs Hit Hanford Cleanup” – Joel Millman, Wall Street Journal (WSJ), 3/19/2013
The Lowdown on the Layoffs
Operations and facilities will be maintained to protect our workforce, the public and the environment
– Erik Olson, DOE Spokesman, 3/19/2013
There are no spending cuts in sequestration. It’s a reduction in the increase in federal spending. That is a huge difference.
According to the WSJ, there are “at least 200” layoffs and up to 2,500 furloughs in the nuclear cleanup workforce of 11,000. That means 8,300 workers are totally unaffected.
The number of furlough days is not specified so it is hard to gauge that effect. It could mean only one day as some union leaders in other industries elsewhere have said.
200 layoffs out of 11,000 is a reduction in workforce (rif) amounting to a 1.8% decrease in staff. That isn’t much and will probably come from normal attrition. In other words, nobody is gonna get a pink slip.
That is why DOE spokesman Erik Olson confidently says they will still get the job done.
About $2 billion a year on toxic nuclear waste cleanup is spent by DOE at Hanford. It is a superfund cleanup site. 2009’s “stimulus” bill picked up the tab for a couple years.
It is probably over-exaggerated as it is but, at most, sequestration will have a minimal impact on Hanford’s cleanup efforts.
Hanford is probably a more typical effect of sequestration than the dire catastrophes you hear mentioned by the White House and Congressional leaders. For example, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just blamed sequestration for a Nevada accident that killed 7 marines.
Again, there are no spending cuts in sequestration! It is an almost imperceptible decrease in the increase in federal spending over the next 10 years. Heck, 18% of it is in interest savings costs alone and not spending cutbacks at all!
Keep that in mind when Congress and the White House keep belly-aching over sequestration and then cut necessary services when they should be cutting fat from a top heavy budget.