Letters From the West

Idaho National Lab announces 84 security workers could be laid off by sequestration

Up to 84 security workers at the Idaho National Laboratory could be laid off as a result of the

Two INL security experts demonstrate how to operate and monitor a closed circuit video system. (INL photo)

Two INL security experts demonstrate how to operate and monitor a closed circuit video system. (INL photo)

sequestration budget cuts that went into effect March 1.

The safeguards and security program is segregated from other lab programs and falls under the Defense budget, which takes a bigger hit. It has 500 workers total.

Since the budget cuts require across the board cuts, INL officials were forced to cut $6.7 million from the 93.3 million budget, said Brad Bugger, a DOE Idaho spokesman. The 2013 budget has not yet been approved but the projected cut from the proposed $94.9 million budget is $8.3 million.

The cuts will come in layoff and attrition of both physical and cyber security staff, Bugger said. That means INL will no longer be able to fully support research and training activities using special nuclear materials, for nonproliferation and emergency response training and other programs for National Homeland Security.

It also will affect research agreements with universities, industries, and international partners, Bugger said. Energy will have to cut back on programs to reduce inventories of nuclear materials and spent nuclear fuel.

All of the cutbacks also “will result in long-term impacts to support facility operations and security activities to enable resumption of mission critical R&D and (Homeland Security) activities,” Bugger said.

“We will continue to investigate options to mitigate these impacts,” he said.

DOE Idaho has to spread the cuts over 225 separate funding lines, which has limited the agency’s flexibility in lessening the impact of the cuts, Bugger said. INL has 3,800 workers not counting its waste clean-up contractors.

“The Department is making every effort possible to prevent severe impacts to the mission and layoffs for our workforce,” he said.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West