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15 take buyouts at West Valley

Fifteen employees of West Valley Environmental Services are taking voluntary separation packages, meaning as many as 50 additional employees will be laid off to reach a job-reduction target.

The company, the Energy Department's prime contractor at the West Valley Demonstration Project, announced in late March that it would cut 65 of its 324 jobs as federal stimulus funds tied to specific projects come to an end.

It offered a "self-select" separation program in hopes of minimizing the number of layoffs required at the Cattaraugus County site.

"Management is evaluating the remaining skill set to determine what positions will be eliminated," said John D. Chamberlain, technical adviser for the company.

Layoff notifications will go out in June, Chamberlain said. The last day of work for all the affected employees, whether laid off or leaving voluntarily, will be June 30.

Additional job reductions could follow when the Energy Department this summer selects a new prime contractor to handle the next phase of work. The new contractor will decide how many workers it needs.

West Valley, just south of Springville, was the site of the nation's only privately operated commercial nuclear fuel processing facility.

The operation separated reusable uranium and plutonium from spent fuel, which came from both commercial and federal nuclear reactors.