Sequestration has hit the Savannah River Site hard, forcing significant cuts in project scope and furloughs, and reduced workweeks are looming for thousands of employees.
“We've fallen off the cliff and hit the rocks at the bottom.”
This was the grim analogy the Department of Energy's top man at SRS used Thursday to describe his budget crisis.
Speaking to the Governor's Nuclear Advisory Council, Dr. David Moody, DOE manager at SRS, did not water down the effect losing $100 million is having on operations and his workforce.
Moody laid out the impact of the budget reductions for the council, speaking in a somber tone.
“We are looking at reduced workweek. … Thirty-two hours … for a couple of thousand employees,” he said. “Several hundred employees will have several months furloughed.”
Outside of specific human resource reductions, Moody explained that H-Canyon will go into limited operation. The 60-year-old facility houses operations unique to SRS.
The primary mission is to dissolve, purify and blend-down surplus highly-enriched uranium and aluminum-clad research reactor fuel to produce a product to be converted to commercial reactor fuel.
A secondary mission is to dissolve excess plutonium not suitable for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility project and transfer it for vitrification in the Defense Waste Processing Facility at SRS.
Funds shortages mean SRS will cease processing used fuel and processing plutonium.
“Later on, if there is no relief, K and L Areas will go to minimum operations status,” he said.
A major problem for DOE is that there is little flexibility with the available funds, and so they cannot be prioritized, he said.
Rep. Tom Young, R-Aiken, asked many questions about what could be done to help alleviate the problem.
Moody was pushing for funds to be reprogrammed from other areas to SRS work, but said that process was not close to happening.
Young resolved, along with other members of the Council, to do all he could to impress upon Washington delegates the importance of having funding restored.