Sequestration Impacts on Hanford - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Sequestration Impacts on Hanford

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RICHLAND, Wash.-- Automatic budget cuts will impact government departments and services across the country if congress doesn't act by March 1st.

If sequestration goes into effect by the end of this week, the Department of Energy will need to cut spending.

This could mean delays in cleanup efforts or a paycheck reduction for many employees.

But there's one thing political leaders and community members agree on, Hanford is one of the last places that should lose funding.

"Sequestration is a fancy Washington word for a bad idea," said Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. 

Senator Wyden, who is chairman of the Senate Energy Committee said the money needs to stay here.

During his tour of Hanford last week, he made clear cleanup needs to be a higher government priority, but budget cuts could set back cleanup work even further.

"They are in the process right now of looking at how they really reduce staff and continue as much work as they can," said Gary Petersen, TRIDEC.

DOE is considering one thousand furloughs. Whether it's workers leaving the office every Friday or taking a whole month off.

"There has been guidance by DOE to all their sites to look for the reductions in their budgets," Petersen said.

Thousands of people in the community will feel the impact of sequestration at Hanford.

"We have roughly 300 to 500 million dollars going to subcontractors, small businesses, in this community. Typically when you have a budget reduction those are the first things that get hit," Petersen said.

The timing of the looming sequestration also raises concerns, especially after last week's announcement that six single shell tanks are now leaking.

"Seeing Hanford workers furloughed at the exact moment we have additional leakers is just totally unacceptable," said Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

Both Inslee and Wyden promise they are talking with other congressional leaders to get the money needed to keep Hanford cleanup on track and workers on the job.

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