About 700 workers at Paducah's United States Enrichment Corporation Plant have been laid off since the plant stopped enriching uranium nearly a year ago. More layoffs are slated for late June or early July.
USEC spokesperson Georgann Lookofsky says the largest workforce reduction saw 360 workers let go in April. She says some workers qualified for retirement and volunteered for workforce reductions to receive severance payments. Younger employees in high-demand fields like engineering left USEC for other employment.
“We are hearing some positive stories,” said Lookofsky. “ I wouldn’t say.. I know that some people, probably are struggling. Once people leave the plant, I don’t necessarily see them regularly. It may be more anecdotal evidence. But, you know, I have heard some very positive stories about people finding new opportunities.”
There was initial hope of transferring workers to other USEC facilities. However, business challenges have limited transfer opportunities. Lookofsky says work is ongoing to aid affected workers find employment through organizations like WKCTC's Career Solutions Community program. The program provides workshops and opportunities to enhance job search skills and shares job postings with those who have been laid off. At its peak USEC employed nearly two-thousand workers at the Paducah site. It currently employs three hundred and fifty.
The Department of Energy is developing a transition plan with the final shutdown date set tentatively for the fall of 2014. Once the DOE assumes responsibility for the plant, a deactivation contractor will be accountable for day to day operations.