LIVERMORE (CBS SF) — The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and other Bay Area-based national research institutions face a nearly total closure this week if the partial federal government shutdown continues.
The shutdown that began Oct. 1 when Congress was unable to vote on a budget is threatening to close the nuclear weapons and national security research institute starting Tuesday, Lawrence Livermore lab spokeswoman Lynda Seaver said.
The effects of the fiscal fiasco, which immediately closed national parks and dozens of other federal offices and programs, are starting to reach Bay Area-based national research institutes.
Seaver said there are more than 6,000 employees at the Livermore lab, and that the furloughs will be “across the board.”
She said by next Monday there would only be safety and security personnel remaining at the facility.
Employees have been told to come in Tuesday to begin “shutdown operations” and that closures will be mostly complete by the end of Wednesday, Seaver said.
The rest of the week will be a holiday, and many employees will be using vacation days for remaining furlough days.
“We’re taking it day by day,” Seaver said. “That’s all we can do.”
The lab is sponsored by the National Nuclear Security Administration and federally funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Energy.
In total, there are 13,000 government contractors working there and at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park.
Thousands of researchers, engineers, scientists and other employees at these research centers are facing furloughs by the end of this week as existing funds run out and may not be paid, according to statement from Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin.
A group of politicians urged the Department of Energy to give “back pay” to employees once the shutdown ends in a bicameral and bipartisan letter written Friday by Swalwell, along with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-San Francisco, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and other members of Congress.
The letter states, “Lab employees have expressed their concerns about the uncertainty they face and the economic hardship which would be caused by the furloughs.”
He continued to ask for compensation “for people who do so much for our country on a daily basis and unfairly are being subjected to this uncertainty.”
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