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Environment

DOE Weapons Labs Face 20–30% Cut

November 5, 2007 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 85, ISSUE 45

The three national nuclear weapons laboratories and five other major weapons facilities could face major changes. Their workforce would be cut by 20–30%, and about 600 buildings would be knocked down under a plan being developed by the National Nuclear Security Administration, a part of the Department of Energy that oversees nuclear weapons. The result would be elimination of 6,000 to 9,000 jobs and a reduction of one-third of NNSA's overall footprint. Most of the proposed cuts would come through attrition and take place over the next 10 to 20 years, NNSA spokesman John Broehm says. However, the elimination of the 600 old structures and a plan to consolidate "special nuclear materials" (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) from eight sites to five will happen within five years, he says. Broehm stresses that the plan is being formulated now and will be made public in December. NNSA has announced its intention to overhaul the entire weapons system over the next 25 years, a process called the "Complex 2030 Plan," but Broehm says this latest transformation plan recognized that some portions of the overhaul must happen sooner. "As the nuclear weapons stockpile gets smaller, the labs will have to do more with less taxpayer dollars," he says. "The workforce will be reduced, as with any kind of business that needs to streamline and be more efficient." No labs would be closed, he adds.

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