Clean up work at the Savannah River Site took a hit in the fiscal year 2014 federal budget, despite record-setting work in 2013. However, other environmental work received substantial funding, with nearly $128 million for Site Stewardship.

Overall, the Department of Energy's Environmental Management programs, or EM, took a hit of 8.4 percent over previous years.

EM received $1.19 billion in fiscal year 2012, but will only receive $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2014. A reduction of just less than $100 million.

Legacy liquid waste stabilization and disposition, or the emptying of the liquid waste tanks, has been cut by $101 million, or 15.5 percent. An even bigger hit is being taken by the Salt Waste Processing Facility, which is funded $78 million, or 45.9 percent, less in fiscal year 2014.

“At the Savannah River Site, the largest portion of the request supports the Tank Waste Liquid Waste Management Program, which includes the operation of the Defense Waste Processing Facility, as well as operation of the Actinide Removal Process and Modular Caustic Side Extraction units,” the president's budget states. “These units will be needed through construction of the Salt Waste Processing Facility. This request also supports the operation of the Saltstone Facility and the continued closure activities for Tanks 5 and 6.”

While the budget cuts funding, it took time to laud Environmental Management's work.

“EM packaged a record high of 276 canisters of high-level waste at the Defense Waste Processing Facility and successfully closed two waste tanks – the first since 1997 – at the Savannah River Site and met the FY 2013 Federal Facilities Agreement tank closure commitment,” a note in the budget said.

The Environmental Management program continues to clean up waste and contamination, focusing on its legally enforceable regulatory commitments. The total budget includes $5.6 billion for EM “to ensure that nuclear wastes from the production of weapons during the Cold War are safely processed, secured and disposed of in a timely manner,” budget documents state. “The site will also continue to support the management of Special Nuclear Materials including the processing of vulnerable spent nuclear fuel; the Global Threat Reduction initiative through continued receipt of foreign and domestic research reactor spent (used) nuclear fuel; and ... reduce the residual plutonium contamination in Building 235-F consistent with Defense Nuclear Safety Facilities Board Recommendation 2012-1.”

Site Stewardship gets increase

This section of this story has been updated due to incorrect numbers previously reported. Read the entire, updated story by clicking here.