skip navigation
Support KUOW
Listen to News


question mark


Some Layoffs At Hanford A Sign Of Cleanup Progress

Anna King


RICHLAND, Wash. – Layoffs are tough in any town, but in Richland, in southeast Washington, they're sort of expected. That's because work at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has always been up and down. This week one of the site's largest contractors announced it's going to be winding down its work on the massive cleanup project.

The contractor is called Washington Closure Hanford, and over the last decade its main mission is to clean up waste sites along the Columbia River.

The contract is worth $2.3 billion. But company spokesman Todd Nelson says that work is drawing to a close in 2015, and the company will be reducing workforce gradually as certain projects end starting next year.

"This is actually one of many actions that people will see in the next several years that demonstrate the success of Hanford cleanup," Nelson said. "It's coming to an end, and we're an example of that."

Nelson says his company will help its 1,300 workers and subcontractors transition into new positions or schooling. Some will retire.

By the time it leaves Hanford, Washington Closure will have cleaned up 550 waste sites, torn down about 300 buildings, cocooned two reactors and one building and expanded a massive radioactive waste dump.

On the Web:

Washington Closure projects:

Copyright 2011 Northwest Public Radio