For Ken Rueter, accepting the job as president and project manager of Savannah River Remediation, the liquid waste contractor for the Savannah River Site, is like accepting a head coaching job for the New England Patriots.
“Like the Patriots in football, no team or organization handles waste treatment as well as SRR here at the Savannah River Site,” Rueter explained in an interview with the Aiken Standard.
While Rueter brings a resume that includes more than 25 years of experience in government nuclear facility operations, his acceptance of the position at SRR ranks highest for him.
“It is one of the highest positions you can reach in this field, so being offered the job is rewarding,” he said. “This is the No. 1 waste treatment project in the world to me.”
His acceptance has come at a pivotal time for both SRS and its liquid waste contractor. Nearly 1,000 employees have been cut from the Site this summer, including layoffs from SRR last week.
Even with the cuts in staff, Rueter is still focused on the projects the contractor has acquired. These include the cleaning of the underground storage tanks, saltstone processing, maintaining the H Canyon mission and the building of the Defense Waste Processing Facility.
“We have a lot on our agenda, but there is still a people aspect to the job,” Rueter said. “We still have to make sure the safety of our individual workers is protected. We have a commitment to make sure they go home the same way they came.”
“Our current objective is to adjust our scope with the 2014 new funding level, which is coming at the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1,” he added.
Rueter's experience with the Site is well documented. In 2011, he served as the project manager for the Alternative Salt Program on site. Before that, he served as a department manager for the URS heritage company, Westinghouse Savannah River Company, in 1999.
Savannah River Remediation is comprised of a team of companies led by URS Corporation with partners Bechtel National, CH2M Hill and Babcock & Wilcox. Critical subcontractors for the contract are AREVA, Energy Solutions and URS Professional Solutions.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a journalism degree in May 2012.