EnergySolutions begins companywide layoffs with Utah plant

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9 2012 8:00 p.m. MDT

This Feb. 8, 2007, file photo, shows a caution sign hanging on a fence at the EnergySolutions facility, in Clive, Utah. EnergySolutions has announced that 265 jobs will be eliminated from the company worldwide, starting with layoffs at its cleanup facility in Tooele County.

Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — EnergySolutions has announced the elimination of about 265 jobs from its worldwide workforce, starting with layoffs at its cleanup facility in Tooele County.

One former employee estimated about 60 employees at the Clive facility were dismissed Monday.

Mark Walker, vice president of marketing and media relations for EnergySolutions, said the layoffs are part of a dramatic reduction and restructuring throughout the company. EnergySolutions employs about 5,000 people worldwide, he said.

Walker estimated that 70 to 80 employees in Utah, at both the Clive facility and the company's corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City, were laid off. Most finished work Monday, while some will continue in a transitional role through the end of the year, he said.

EnergySolutions estimates it will save $35 million annually through restructuring and workforce reduction, Walker said. Those savings were estimated based on the previous salary, benefits and travel expenses of the outgoing employees.

The Utah-based company, which works primarily in processing, recycling and disposing of nuclear material, was named the No. 2 top revenue company in the state Tuesday by Mountain West Capital Network.

Walker said EnergySolutions is not facing economic hardship. Rather, the cuts are intended to accommodate future contract opportunities and pay down debt in light of evaluations by new management.

"This isn't because we're financially in trouble," he said. "The evaluations came back that in some areas we had more employees than were necessary or positions that were no longer necessary."

The restructuring was announced in June with the hiring of David Lockwood as the company's chief executive officer and Greg Wood as chief financial officer. The new leadership immediately began evaluating the company across the board, Walker said.

Layoffs occurred in Utah, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.

Contracts for waste cleanup have been declining, and EnergySolutions in March lost the contract for cleanup of the Moab uranium mill to Partage, an Idaho-based company. Shortly after, EnergySolutions nabbed a contract with Toshiba to clean up radioactively contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi caused by Japan's devastating tsunami. 

One man who was laid off from the Clive facility said employees were told about the imminent reduction several weeks ago when the site's manager, Jeff Gardner, was dismissed. The man asked that his name not be used in deference to his pending severance package.

No one has felt secure at the plant since Gardner was dismissed and the new site manager announced the pending layoffs, the man said. 

"Nobody felt safe," he said. "When you lay off the site manager, it shows you that everybody is vulnerable."

Employees at the Clive facility had noticed "there's just no work," the man said. They were told the cuts were due to a lack of revenue.

Walker confirmed the facility has seen a decline in waste disposal since 2006. He attributed the drop to increased competition in the field, fewer federal contracts and a decline in sites requiring waste cleanup.

Employees who had fallen victim to the cuts at the Clive plant consoled each other on the bus, the former employee said. To a certain degree they were relieved the uncertainty was over, he said, even though they are now unemployed.

"That's a lot of pressure to live under," he said. "Now it's a whole different pressure of providing an income."

The company has worked to ensure that safety remained a top priority as the staff reductions were planned, Walker said.

All outgoing employees will receive a severance package determined by amount of time they were employed with the company. Layoffs were not determined based on job performance, Walker said.

The former Clive facility employee called the severance package "generous." 

"They could have just paid me for Monday and said, 'You're on your own,' but they're at least paying me for the end of the week," he said.

Contributing: Amy Joi O'Donoghue and Paul Nelson 

E-mail: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @McKenzieRomero

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