First of 500 layoff notices go out to employees at Livermore Lab

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on Monday began issuing layoff notices to 500 employees amid a budget shortfall and management changes.

The nuclear weapons research lab employs about 7,800 workers, one-third of whom live in the San Joaquin Valley, spokeswoman Lynda Seaver said Monday. The job cuts will come from flex-term and temporary positions at the lab.

Flex-term workers are hired for as long as six years under employment contracts. Temporary employees are hired through outside contractors but work at the lab.

Seaver said some employees received layoff notices Monday. The remainder will receive notices on Jan. 16. There might be more layoffs later this year, Seaver said.

In October, the lab changed from being managed by the University of California, which has led the lab since its founding in 1952, to a new partnership called Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC.

The partnership is made up of the university and several engineering and nuclear specialty companies, such as Bechtel Corp.

The lab, which specializes in nuclear research and development, is facing a projected $300 million operational budget shortfall in the U.S. Department of Energy's budget.

More changes at the lab could be imminent if the federal government goes ahead with a proposal to stop testing at a site in the Altamont Hills. The Site 300 test range near Tracy is slated to stop testing under the U.S. National Nuclear Security Agency's proposal to consolidate the nation's nuclear weapons infrastructure.

Federal officials say that plan would lower security risks and storage costs by moving some of the work to a New Mexico lab and a Nevada test site.

If the agency follows through with the proposal, more than 900 nuclear weapons program workers at Lawrence Livermore Lab could lose their jobs. A final decision is expected this year.