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Economic Impact Of Hanford Layoffs? We’ve Been Down This Road Before

Hanford Entry Sign
(us department of energy)

With the latest round of 244 Hanford Tank Farm Workers being laid off, many wonder what will be the economic impact of the estimated 2-3000 total who will be downsized at Hanford.

While this is a significant loss to the area, it is not unfamiliar.  Those living here in the very late 1970’s and early 80’s worried if Hanford “closed” it would turn the Tri Cities into a ghost town.  While the largest layoffs in Hanford history occured (several thousand above those planned now) the mission of Hanford changed from plutonium and some energy generation to cleanup.   Some things to consider:  The Tri Cities has diversified it’s economy greatly since those days.  Numerous national publications list Tri Cities as one of the best areas to relocate to, and numerous companies have been moving headquarters or offices here. Cascade Natural Gas, for example, moved their corporate headquarters here from Seattle in the last year or so.   The Tri Cities also ranks highly in income earned by workers.  The exact impact of the layoffs will start to be seen as more workers are let go, or take early retirement at Hanford.   But those who know details of the economy or have been here before stress it is not prudent to push the panic button. The Tri Cities is far larger, stronger and more diversified than 30 years ago when Hanford experienced it largest reductions.   According to data compiled by Tri City area real estate agents, since 1993 while Hanford’s workforce has gone down total by 5,000,  some 50,000 jobs have been added to the area economy.   And because of past history, officials, including those at TRIDEC, the community is far more prepared for such impacts.  There will be an impact but it is best to wait and see how it unfolds for Hanford’s future.  Also having an effect on this will be the future of the VIT plant.  The plant, that will process the nation’s spent nuclear waste, is expected to be operational, some say, by 2018 or 19.   Where the spent nuclear fuel and waste goes will also have a bearing on future Hanford Federal Involvement, whether the ‘closed’ Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository is continued.

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