The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday that will help support some operations at the Savannah River Site during the government shutdown.
Known as the Nuclear Weapon Security and Non-Proliferation Act, the bill funds the National Nuclear Security Administration – or NNSA – throughout the remainder of the government shutdown.
“The passage of today’s bill allows SRS to continue NNSA operations and provides the dedicated workforce with the resources they need to complete fundamental national security missions,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.
The NNSA’s operations at the Savannah River Site include oversight of the tritium facilities. The facilities supply and process tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen gas that is a vital component of nuclear weapons.
In addition, the NNSA also operates the MOX program at the Site. Its work is part of a nonproliferation effort between the United States and Russia to dispose of at least 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium.
“The Savannah River Site, which established victory during the Cold War, has thousands of committed employees working on Department of Energy-Environmental Management projects,” Wilson said. “These professionals also provide crucial services to our country through their nuclear nonproliferation and environmental clean-up efforts.”
While the new legislation will keep several jobs in place under the NNSA, other contractors at the Site recently have undergone furloughs. Savannah River Remediation, the Site’s liquid waste contractor, furloughed 1,400 workers last week. On Friday, Wackenhut Services Incorporated, the Site’s security contractors, furloughed 270 of its workers. In addition, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, SRS’s largest contractor, notified employees this week that the federal government shutdown could result in furloughs when funding runs out in late October.
“Although I am pleased that a bipartisan group in the House has approved resources for the NNSA, it is Congress’ responsibility to fund Environmental Management operations as well,” Wilson added.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June.