LANL to shut down Friday unless shutdown ends

Posted at: 10/15/2013 5:19 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Unless Congress reaches a deal and ends the government shutdown soon, Los Alamos National Laboratory will close this Friday. The entire town of Los Alamos is bracing for the impact, since the laboratory is the biggest employer there. A shutdown would also crush local businesses that rely on customers who work at the lab.

Pet shop owner Cyndi Wells knows that if people are out of work, her sales will plunge.

“I worry about, as an employer I feel responsible for my employees, and I feel responsible for my employee's kids,” Wells said.

But there’s more – Wells’ husband works at the laboratory, and they have their own family to support.

“My husband will be furloughed along with everyone else who gets furloughed,” Wells said. “We already have customers who were sub-contractors or contractors that have been furloughed.   So you know it will be a lot of families.”

The Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce says without those families spending, fragile local businesses could crumble. The shutdown itself will hurt city operations directly.

“I see it as potential for a major failure,” Katy Korko said. “Our county government relies on Gross receipts taxes, which they receive from the operations of Los Alamos National Lab.”

It’s a disaster they can see coming, and hope politicians will prevent.

“The true impact of what's going on is not hitting home to the people in Washington,” Wells said. “I love our nation.  This is a great nation.  We need to act like we are.”

It’s still unclear how many of the lab’s 10,000 employees will be affected. The House passed a bill to protect funding for the labs, but the Senate hasn’t touched it yet. They say they’re waiting for a bill to fund the entire government.