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Shutdown closes USDA, Connecticut Conservation District offices

By Judy Benson

Publication: theday.com

Published October 01. 2013 12:00PM   Updated October 02. 2013 12:06AM

Norwich — The local offices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District closed Tuesday due to the federal government shutdown.

The USDA's farm service agency, which shares an office on West Town Street with the NRCS and the conservation district, is directing callers to a USDA website. When the site is accessed, a message appears stating that the site is not available "due to the lapse in federal government funding" and that after funding has been restored the site will not be able to be reactivated immediately.

Visitors are then directed to another site to learn about the USDA's contingency plans: www.whitehouse.gov/omb/contingency-plans. The NRCS, a division of the USDA, is also closed.

A message for callers to the conservation district states that the office is closed due to the shutdown.

Scott Gravatt, executive director of the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District, said staff of the private nonprofit agency worked from home on Tuesday. The agency has a partnership with the NRCS that provides it with office space, "so when we have a government shutdown, our office is closed," he said.

Meanwhile, the shutdown has had no effect on the services provided by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the Millstone Power Station in Waterford.

Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC, said the agency has contingency funds left from the last fiscal year to continue its full operations through next week. After that, if the shutdown continues, all NRC staff considered non-essential would be furloughed, paring the total workforce from 3,900 to about 300. Those 300 would include the three resident inspectors assigned to Millstone and inspectors at the nation's other nuclear power plants, he said.

— Judy Benson

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