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USEC layoffs continue

BY CORIANNE EGAN cegan@paducahsun.com

More than 100 workers at the United States Enrichment Corporation lost their jobs in February, and an additional 360 workers will join them by the end of April.

USEC spokeswoman Georgann Lookofsky confirmed Wednesday that 110 workers were laid off in February. WARN Notices - notices required from the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act - were sent out to an additional 360 workers in mid February, signaling layoffs planned for April 11 through April 24.

The company announced its impending closing last May after the Department of Energy did not approve a four-month extension on USEC's uranium enrichment operations at the plant. The company then began systematic layoffs of its 1,100 employees, which began in August and have continued throughout the year. At the end of April, there will be about 300 workers left at the plant.

After April, the reductions will be smaller and linked to specific shutdown projects, Lookofsky said.

The county has rallied around those who have been laid off, hosting rapid response meetings on unemployment last summer, then career and job fairs in the fall and winter.  Global Laser Enrichment, a subsidiary of GE-Hitachi, announced plans to operate an enrichment facility at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in November, an investment that could total $1 billion, but is expected to bring only about a third of the jobs USEC created.

Meanwhile, USEC announced bankruptcy plans in December.

While the impending layoffs affect many at the plant, LATA Kentucky announced in mid-February that it will rehire up to 95 workers over the next year for cleanup at the site. The funds come from $324 million in cleanup funds allocated to DOE for cleanup at the Paducah site. Spokesman Joe Walker said the company will hire those people as projects begin throughout the year.

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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