Dec 1, 2007

Nuke Labs Blast Jobs; 750 Out at Los Alamos

By Noah Shachtman EmailNovember 30, 2007 | 11:34:00 AMCategories: Los Alamos and Labs

Losalamos3_f It ain't easy, working at a nuclear lab these days. It's not just the Congressional scrutiny, the security screw-ups, the "persistent safety problems," or the lack of Cold War drama. But after years and years of assured somewhat stable employment,* jobs are starting to getting awfully scarce at the nation's nuclear labs. The suits in DC have just approved a plan for up to 750 folks at Los Alamos National Lab -- 9 percent of the workforce -- to voluntarily step down. Allegedly, "workers in defined classifications with critical skills or strategic responsibilities and managers defined as key personnel... will not be allowed leave under the self-selection plan," according to the Los Alamos Monitor. We'll see.

A few weeks ago, the Lawrence Livermore National Lab announced that it, too, might have to let go as many as 500 workers, too. The Sandia lab is planning for much smaller cuts - as few as 40 folks.

The layoffs are due, in part, to flat or shrinking budgets for the labs. The facilities' new managers have something to do with the cuts, too. After years of swiss-cheese security, defense contractors were brought in to help the University of California run Los Alamos and Livermore. And these companies need to get paid. As one commenter notes on the invaluable LANL: The Rest of the Story blog, the management team should save about $69,600,000 from the Los Alamos departures. Their estimated fee for running the place: $70,000,000.

* As Stephen points out, there were several rounds of layoffs during the 90s, too.


Anonymous said...

Noah Shachtman is the same guy who in the past has tried to sneak onto open LANL property and claim he's been able to breach LANL security. He's a lightweight in the journalism world.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the LLNL blog sites got blasted too:

Anonymous said...

I second 10:57's post.
Considering this guys record of assumptions-as-facts, he's lucky he can find it with both hands and the help of a friend.
His "expose'" about sneaking into that tech area (forget the number) at the far southeast corner may have seemed revealing to the uninformed, but was a serious hoot to the rest of us up here

Anonymous said...

The "Great Train Wreck" that was posted in an earlier time, a few months ago is a coming around the bend....The Gravy Train...the 2.2 Billion Dollar Taxpayer Budget. Come on what is the country really getting for all those dollars? Care to comment? The Lab could rid itself of 3000, FTE's and guess what no one would notice. I know...the world could not live without us we are so important, yea! BS....Your arrogance is showing again, (one reason we are heading to the unemployment line) think that degree will get you a cup of coffee of this hill...try it..

Anonymous said...

Does anyone feel the Stress rising? This is the way we are going to live for the next few years..a budget that only supplies funding year to year, a management that only looks at the bottom line, a Congress that is re-thinking the Nuclear weapons program, a country at war, the largest national debt in history, etc.....Welcome to the new America

Anonymous said...

12/1/07 10:57 PM "He's a lightweight in the journalism world."

The arrogance of the Los Alamos Lab is adequately demonstrated by such comments. If we agree with someone's view point, the person is insightful. If we don't agree, the person then is "misinformed" or, as in this case, simply a "lightweight." The best thing for the nation would be to remove such arrogance from our midst. But of course, it's arrogant idiots like this one who are in charge at Los Alamos, and in their minds they're too perfect for words. It's a self perpetuating culture we have. We're doomed because of it.

Anonymous said...

"Does anyone feel the Stress rising?"
-12/2/07 8:46 AM

Hey, I don't feel stressed. I moved out of Los Alamos years ago. Got rid of my over priced duplex back then and did quite well in the process. I still ride the gravy train on the Hill, but I saw the writing on the wall ten years ago. Of course most of my colleagues remained mired in their dream world, rooted in their own sense of self importance and the delusion of being indispensable to the nation. That doesn't surprise me though. What surprises me is that it's taken this long for the country to wake up to the fact that the cold war actually ended 15 years ago. Thank you St. Pete, for keeping the myth alive for so long. What's one more millionaire?

Anonymous said...

I can't quite see the moral difference between labeling somebody a 'lightweight' or calling somebody else an 'arrogant idiot'.
People can't we all just get along? RK

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what happened to the LLNL Blog??? Were we just starting to share too accurate of information and "they" pressured the blog miser to give it up or face certain layoffs?

Anonymous said...

In 2003, Shachtman claimed he broke top-secret security, when in fact all he did was invade abandoned old buildings. That's yellow journalism. He tried to defend his overstatements to a much broader audience than just annoyed LANL employees.

Anonymous said...


Give it a rest. You never have a logical or reasoned post. You simply make unfounded and unsubstantiated exlamations that waste time. You also seem to be a rather unhinged charater judging by your bizarre dribble. Perhaps you one of those people who got RIFed in 94 because you so incompetent?

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, let's get back to the real issues. Did you read John Fleck's blog about Domenici Pulls Out of Energy Bill Process? See below:

The big news on the energy front is word of a possible deal in the byzantine negotiations over an energy bill. (Details in this morning' s New York Times) But it's worth sharing some strong words from Pete Domenici's office that just landed in my in box. Worth quoting in its entirety:

Following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement outlining the energy bill that will be considered in the House of Representatives next week, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, issued the following statement:

“From the beginning, I have been concerned that the lack of a formal conference committee would make it impossible to complete work on an energy bill that would contain the right priorities and have the votes to pass the Senate. It appears as though my fears have been well founded.

“For weeks, my staff, along with Senator Bingaman’s, has been engaged in good faith negotiations with the House under a defined set of parameters laid out at the start of the process. We have made substantial bipartisan progress toward finalizing a bill. The legislation we have been working on contained a robust, much-needed Renewable Fuels Standard, important provisions on energy efficiency and carbon sequestration, and a long overdue increase in fuel economy standards. The parameters agreed to by Speaker Pelosi and communicated to us by Senate Democrats did not include a renewable portfolio standard.

“It appears, however, that Speaker Pelosi has gone back on her word and chosen to go her own path on the energy bill. The inclusion of a costly, ineffective Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) will make this bill untenable for many in the Senate. RPS may not be the only deviation from the negotiated bill text, as the Speaker appears willing to take advantage of the lack of a formal conference committee process and institute other changes in the bill as she sees fit.

“The Speaker expects the Senate to discard a negotiated, bipartisan agreement in favor of her bill without amendment. That is no way to pass legislation and is another in a long list of reasons why Congress has lost the faith and trust of the American people.

“RPS places an unfair burden on states that lack the natural resources to meet a new renewable electricity standard. Consumers that live in such states--many in the South—will undoubtedly be forced to pay substantially higher electricity rates, with no additional renewable electricity to show for it. Why should the average rate payer in Kentucky or Mississippi be punished because their state doesn’t naturally have the resources to produce this type of energy?

“I strongly support the use of renewable energy, and in fact led the charge in 2005 to pass the largest tax credits ever for wind, solar and other new clean energy technologies. However, a one-size-fits all, mandatory federal RPS is not the right approach to achieve our common goals. I fear that the inclusion of RPS will make it much harder to enact this much-needed legislation, particularly in light of previous Statements of Administration Policy on RPS.

“At this time, I have instructed my staff to cease their work on the energy bill, since the final bill apparently will not be the product of our bipartisan negotiations. As someone who has been working for 35 years to forge bipartisan, good-faith compromises on tough issues like the federal budget and energy policy, I know that your word means everything. It is particularly disappointing for me to see that such a sentiment seems to be a thing of the past.

Anonymous said...

I tried to access the LLNL Blogs and they are gone. What is the deal? Is the Rest of the Story next?

Anonymous said...


There have been a lot of questions about the disappearing llnl blogs. Would you make a new top level post for this subject? Maybe the llnl blog owner will appear and mention what happened.

Anonymous said...

Poster 12:13 PM, what is the implication of St. Pete's action?

Does this mean it is likely that NNSA's budget will now be held to the draconian House bill levels?

LANL is already struggling to deal with the $175 million in new costs associated with the LLC. How in heck will it be possible for LANL to also deal with the massive cuts in the House bill being added into this mix?

There are at least $150 million in real cuts (i.e., jobs) for LANL in the House bill. This comes to an additional 1100 jobs to be cut in addition to the 750 being cut right now (for a 1850 total)

This is beginning to get really scary very fast. It seems we're beginning to see signs that LANL is going to collapse down to a much smaller work force, say 8500 workers, in a single year. If so, this takes us down about 18% in work force size, which is close to the 20% figure that NNSA has recently mentioned as their longer term goal.

Anonymous said...

Sen. Domenici is pissed because the Democrats are running the Congress he's lost his clout, and he can't get funding to cover Mikey's ass. The result will be about 1500-2000 jobs this FY.....So much for Pete...Nancy Pelosi can do what she wants , she may decide to cut our funding by even more than we think...Games up.

Anonymous said...

Forget what Mike said at the All-Hands meeting about LANL not being able to take a single year cut of 10% in the work force.

It's going to happen, and it's going to be much bigger than just the 5% to 9% figure that LANS is now telling you. Plan on at least 15% this year, and possibly as high as 20%. This RIF is just getting started once Phase II has been completed.

Anonymous said...

6:16, I think the Energy Bill mentioned in the article might be different than the one dealing with appropriations. Note that the article says the House will take it up next week. I believe the House already passed the Energy and Water Approproations Bill which includes DOE funding, while the Senate has not.

Anonymous said...

EverythingI read and hear leads me to believe Pelosi is the proverbial "Bull in the China shop".

I'll bet she is re-elected. Not for any other reason than the general popoulace is uninformed.