What Will Government Shutdown Mean for Hanford?

What Will Government Shutdown Mean for Hanford? »Play Video
TRI-CITIES -- It's not just political pressure or empty threats, we are creeping closer to a government shutdown. It's a very real concern for folks in the Tri-Cities. Thousands work for the feds through the Hanford site. KEPR Action News is taking a closer look at what a shutdown would mean for our community.

Drive around the research district in Richland and you'll see just how dependent we are on the federal government.

In the Tri-Cities there are 18,000 government workers, most tied to the federal government. Folks like Steve Burke, working to cleanup Hanford.

"As far as Hanford goes, the critical functions will go on. The rest of us will wait and see what happens," said Burke.

Steve's worked at the area for three decades. He was here for the last shutdown 15 years ago during the Clinton administration.

"It was more of a slowdown than a shutdown. Once we get the funding you make up for the lost time. We have a lot of goals and timetables out here," said Burke.

When KEPR started making calls on Wednesday morning, a lot folks were uncertain what the shutdown would mean for Hanford. But by mid-day a letter was sent out to federal workers.

"We continue to operate under a Continuing Resolution that expires at midnight April 8, 2011. In the unlikely event of a lapse in appropriation, federal and contractor employees are to report to work as usual. Unless we are directed differently, our plan is to utilize carryover dollars until funding is exhausted. We will continue to evaluate options to fund our work and safe operations at Hanford.

There will not be any interruptions to Richland Federal Building access.

Employees are encouraged to stay in touch with their supervisors for additional information. We will keep you apprised of developments and potential impacts to the site."

So now it's just wait and see if the Democrats and the Republicans can come together so the work at Hanford can continue with full force.

In the 1995 government shut down about 800,000 employees were affected nationwide. And the White House has said it's expecting a similar number of workers would be impacted if the government closes later this week.