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As the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project begins to wind down operations, Fluor Idaho told employees Monday it will lay off up to 190 workers in fiscal year 2019.

The Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s desert site west of Idaho Falls, processes old transuranic waste that is then shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, N.M., for permanent storage.

The DOE announced last year that it will close the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project this year.

Amid suggestions that the site could process waste from other nuclear sites, such as Washington state’s Hanford Site, DOE officials decided it would not be cost effective to keep the project running.

The project employs nearly 600 people.

According to Fluor Idaho’s communications director, Ann Riedesel, employees were aware that “company restructuring” was coming, following announcement of the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project closing.

“We talked a lot about it,” Riedesel said. “The employees knew it was a 15-year mission. It’s still a challenging situation. Change is never fun.”

Layoffs will happen in two phases, one in June and one later in the year. Each phase will consist of voluntary layoffs and, if necessary, involuntary layoffs.

Involuntary layoffs will only occur if the company doesn’t meet its 190-employee target through volunteers.

“If there are people who have been thinking about leaving, for whatever reason, this may be an opportunity they want to take advantage of,” Riedesel said.

Laid-off workers will receive severance pay, which is based on whole years of service, up to a maximum of 16 weeks of base pay, according to Erik Simpson, a Fluor Idaho spokesman. Personal leave (vacation and sick time) balances will be cashed out. And laid-off workers will have continued medical insurance benefits, under DOE’s Displaced Worker Medical Benefit Program, Simpson said.

Fluor Idaho is not offering retraining programs. It is working with the College of Eastern Idaho and Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho to sponsor job fairs with companies in the area, Riedesel said.

The majority of layoffs will come to workers involved with the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project. Although, workers throughout Fluor Idaho could be susceptible.

Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project employees who face “workforce restructuring” could be moved to another position within Fluor Idaho, Riedesel said.

“If there are opportunities for them elsewhere in the company, we could move somebody,” she said. “It could be anywhere across the company.”

Fluor Idaho, which has a total of 1,500 employees, will continue to employ packaging and shipping employees at the project site.

Reporter Ryan Suppe can be reached at 208-542-6762. Follow him on Twitter: @salsuppe.