AMWTP

Workers move drums filled with radioactive materials at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project. The facility is expected to close at the end of 2019.

Idaho National Laboratory’s cleanup contractor says there won’t be any involuntary layoffs at this time.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced in December 2018 that the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, which has been processing decades-old transuranic waste created by nuclear weapons production in Colorado during the Cold War, would not be kept open to process additional waste from Hanford, Wash., and therefore would close after finishing its current mission.

About 700 people worked at AMWTP earlier this year. Cleanup contractor Fluor Idaho announced in April it would lay off up to 190 workers this year, and Idaho Cleanup Project Deputy Manager Jack Zimmerman said in mid-May that, although enough people had been taking the voluntary layoff offer as of then, he expected involuntary layoffs to be unavoidable by September.

Fluor opened the window for the second phase of a voluntary retirement program on July 31, said Fluor Idaho spokesman Erik Simpson.

“On that date, there were 494 employees performing work in support of AMWTP,” Simpson said in an email. “Since then there have retirements, transfers, and volunteers who have stepped forward for the (Self-Select Voluntary Separation Program).”

Simpson said involuntary layoffs won’t be necessary due to job transfers, retirements, people leaving voluntarily and employee transfers accompanying the wind-down of AMWTP’s waste processing operations. AMWTP is expected to wrap up its current mission in October, he said.

“The company also evaluated its needs as it prepares documentation for Resource Conservation and Recovery Act closures for AMWTP and the Accelerated Retrieval Project,” Simpson said. “Fluor Idaho will continue to assess staffing needs as the Idaho Cleanup Project moves forward addressing and completing the INL site cleanup mission.”

Simpson said he would have a revised headcount for current employment there after Sept. 30, the deadline for people retiring voluntarily to withdraw their paperwork.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.