Contingency plans are being developed at Hanford to keep the nuclear reservation in a safe condition if the federal government shutdown continues.
How long work can continue as usual is uncertain. Since the start of the current fiscal year, Oct. 1, Hanford environmental cleanup has continued, at least in part, with carryover money from the previous fiscal year.
But the Department of Energy has not said how much money is available. And questions remain about how much flexibility DOE will have to move money among projects to provide flexibility to allow cleanup work to continue.
DOE has produced a department-wide plan that addresses federal employees, but not contractor employees, the majority of the approximately 8,000 workers at Hanford.
The plan, which has not been implemented, as DOE continues to use money from prior years, calls for five federal employees to continue working at the DOE Hanford Richland Operations Office and two federal employees to continue working at the DOE Hanford Office of River Protection.
Hanford contractors have told employees to continue to report to work as usual at the nuclear reservation.
On Monday, Washington Closure Hanford, Washington River Protection Solutions and CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. updated information to employees in memos that were similar for all three contractors.
Workers were told that “the nature of DOE funding” will allow continued operations for a short period of time.
All Hanford contractors are working with DOE to prepare contingency plans that support the priorities of safety and security during a worst-case shutdown scenario. Instead of advancing cleanup, all work would be focused on the activities needed to keep the site safe and secure, the memos said.
To conserve resources, managers have been told to postpone all travel, training and other activities that can be temporarily put off.
Workers at Washington Closure and CH2M Hill were told that only overtime would be approved for critical work only.
At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland work continues using unspent money from previous years.