Pink slips going out at Hanford nuclear site

Hanford nuclear site workers report possible chemical vapors

Cleanup work is likely to be slowed at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site because of automatic federal budget cuts.

Nearly 300 workers are getting pink slips at south-central Washington’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and hundreds more will be furloughed.

About 9,000 people work at the site that produced plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal beginning in World War II. Several companies are contracted to clean up the site.

Washington River Protection Solutions is tasked with emptying underground waste tanks, some of which are leaking. Company spokesman Jerry Holloway says 70 workers will be laid off, including nuclear operators responsible for transferring waste between tanks and pumping it out.

Holloway says the company’s roughly 900 nonunion employees will be furloughed for varying lengths ranging from 2.5 weeks to 6.5 weeks.