The United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) notified its employees at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant on Friday of layoffs beginning in August.
The notifications are provided under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act), a federal statute that requires an employer to provide advance notice to its employees of potential layoffs in certain circumstances.
The notifications are being provided to all salaried employees and employees who are represented by the United Steelworkers International Union, Local 550 — a total of about 1034 workers.
USEC expects that initial layoffs of about 160 employees will occur between Aug. 5-19. Additional layoffs may occur in stages during 2013 and/or 2014 depending on business needs to manage inventory, fulfill customer orders, meet regulatory requirements and transition the site back to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in a safe and orderly manner.
Information on these additional layoffs will be communicated to affected employees in future notices.
The layoffs are the result of the transition of enrichment activities at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
On May 24, USEC announced that it was not able to conclude a deal for the short-term extension of uranium enrichment at the plant, and the company would begin ceasing uranium enrichment at the end of May.
DOE has concluded that there were not sufficient benefits to the taxpayers to extend enrichment at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. USEC expects to continue operations at the site into 2014 in order to manage inventory, continue to meet customer orders and to meet the turnover requirements of its lease with DOE.
Affected employees may be eligible for dislocated worker assistance through the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Representatives from the Kentucky Department of Human Services and the Job and Family Services Offices are expected to be available in the near future to discuss any benefits associated with the Dislocated Worker Assistance Program and to update employees on unemployment compensation benefits.
USEC’s Paducah employees have operated the plant at peak efficiency and safety, building on a decades-long legacy of energy and national security.
According to a USEC employee, despite the excellent performance of its workforce, high production costs due to the large power consumption of the plant and falling prices in the global nuclear fuel market have made it difficult to continue commercial enrichment at the plant.
USEC plans to return portions of the plant site to DOE during the next year.
USEC employs more than 1000 people at the plant.