Sandia National Laboratories is preparing to shut down Monday, Oct. 21 if the federal budget standoff continues.
In a memo to employees on Tuesday, lab director Paul Hommert said, “As a result of the continued federal budget impasse in Congress, the National Nuclear Security Administration has asked that we prepare for a safe, secure and orderly shutdown of Sandia National Laboratories by close of business on Monday, Oct. 21.”
If a shutdown of Sandia is required, program work will not take place.
“It is conceivable that the congressional impasse will be resolved in the coming days,” Hommert wrote. “I recognize the uncertainty and hardship this places on you and your families and my hope is that, should we experience a shutdown, it is short.”
Sandia has posted an internal FAQ, and asked employees to email questions to a special address, according to the memo. The labs had an all hands meeting on Wednesday from 2-3 p.m.
Also, Los Alamos National Laboratory is facing hardships. About 200 contractors have been asked not to show up for work at the lab in northern New Mexico, officials told Albuquerque Business First.
A LANL spokesman said Tuesday that on Monday the lab suspended its operations for processing and shipping transuranic waste, adding that nuclear material has been secured.
“LANL has now reached a point where we need to begin standing down certain operations where there is no longer funding available to maintain full operations. Protecting special nuclear material, national security information, workers, the public and the environment remains an essential function,” LANL said in an official statement.
LANL did not specify any other affected operations beyond the transuranic waste shipping and processing.
“Sandia National Laboratories has announced that it will have to shut its doors and lay off workers if the budget impasse isn’t resolved by Oct. 21. And word is expected from LANL soon,” Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “Together the labs employ over 19,000 workers. Another 27,000 New Mexicans work for the federal government and many face furloughs of uncertain length. Putting thousands of people out of work is devastating to our economy, and I am outraged that this shutdown continues.”