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Hundreds of pink slips handed out at Hanford

Ted S. Warren
Associated Press

Pink slips are going out to hundreds of workers at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site because of automatic federal budget cuts.

About 9,000 people work at south-central Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation, which produced plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal beginning in World War II.

Cameron Hardy of the Energy Department's Richland Operations Office says its budget has been cut by $79 million. The office oversees three contractors hired to treat groundwater, dig up contaminated soil and debris, mothball nuclear reactors and provide onsite services.

Hardy says more than 200 employees will be laid off and another 1,700 will be furloughed.

The Energy Department's Office of River Protection has not yet announced budget cuts for the contractor hired to empty underground waste tanks, some of which are leaking.

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