Friday, April 25, 2014

Babcock & Wilcox to determine layoffs in coming months

Babcock & Wilcox to determine layoffs in coming months

Jason Ruiter | Posted: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 11:07 pm
Babcock & Wilcox Company will determine the number of layoffs over the next two months after a roughly three-quarter cut in the funding of a subsidiary that designs and develops small modular nuclear reactors was announced this week.
“The anticipated employee reductions represent less than 10 percent of our total workforce in the Lynchburg area, although it’s important to emphasize that all employees are an important part of our team so the program restructuring was a difficult decision to make,” B&W spokesman Jud Simmons said in an email Wednesday.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based B&W employs about 2,400 people in the Lynchburg area, mainly in its Nuclear Operations and mPower business units.
More than 200 employees of mPower are in the Lynchburg area, with about 20 working at the Integrated System Test Facility at the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research in Bedford County and about 175 at Lynchpin Business Park in Lynchburg.
Generation mPower’s spending will be reduced to $15 million — from about $60 million to $80 million spent annually — in the beginning of the third quarter this year. The company will be discussing the outcome and appropriate response with both the U.S. Department of Energy, which helps fund the program, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, a Tennessee electrical provider for whom mPower was designing and developing the smaller reactor for.
“We anticipate layoffs, but are uncertain as to how many employees will be impacted at this time as the size and scope of the program depends on the outcome of discussions with the [DOE and TVA] over the next 60 days,” Simmons said.
B&W will work to place employees in other business units in addition to supplying severance packages and “outplacement assistance…to employees… who will not fill new roles with B&W,” he added.
Because the subsidiary was unable to gather investors last year, the program will be “scaled down,” said Aimee Mills, media relations spokeswoman for B&W in Charlotte.
The designing and development of small modular reactors is a new field and no plant has been established. Nuclear energy has experienced a drop in public support since the disaster of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan during the 2011 tsunami there.

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