ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) – Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) officials have released a statement regarding the impact of COVID-19 and vaccine mandates as the federal deadline of Jan. 4 approaches.

COVID has had, and continues to have, a terrible impact on the Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. family and our community. In addition, every employee will soon be subject either to the federal contractual mandate for COVID-19 vaccination and/or the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard regulation. We believe that vaccination will eventually be required for most of our employees. Since there is a weekly testing option for unvaccinated employees written into the OSHA regulations, we are also evaluating the applicability of that option to our workforce. We will also consider medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination mandate.

Nuclear Fuel Services

For many employers, the question of vaccination has remained open since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ballad Health has remained an ardent proponent of vaccination and still remains hesitant on system-wide mandates in late 2021.

As many employers preempt regulations set out by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and put in place their own vaccine mandates, administration at Nuclear Fuel Services told News Channel 11 that they still encourage their workers to get the jab on their own time.

“We value our highly skilled workforce and continue to encourage those who are not yet vaccinated to begin the process as soon as possible,” NFS’s statement reads. “Ever since the pandemic started, we have been acutely focused on protecting the health and safety of our employees, their families and the communities where we operate.

“This mandate is unprecedented for our workers and our company, and we understand that employees have concerns or may desire more information. We are working to answer employees’ questions, and we are reviewing exemption requests in a thoughtful and methodical manner.”

Within OSHA emergency temporary standards, those who do not receive a vaccine must be tested once every seven days or within the last seven days of returning to work.

Within those guidelines, employers are not required to pay for the necessary tests unless otherwise required by other laws or agreements.

If they so choose, however, “nothing prohibits employers from voluntarily assuming the costs associated with testing.”

When asked, NFS officials told News Channel 11 that they are evaluating the option of company-paid testing for those who remain unvaccinated. Within OSHA standards, tested workers who are indoors with others would still be required to wear a mask.

According to their website, Nuclear Fuel Services manufactures fuel for every U.S. naval reactor found within submarines and aircraft carriers in the current fleet. Their facilities also convert Cold War-era uranium into usable fuel, removing potential hazards and creating potential energy.