The impacts of the recent government shutdown were a main focus of a Monday meeting hosted by the Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board.
Savannah River Remediation, the Savannah River Site's liquid waste contractor, was forced to suspend the grouting of liquid waste tanks five and six and suspend closure work of tanks 12 and six as a result of the shutdown.
The suspensions were part of a larger discussion during the meeting, and DOE-SR representative Doug Hintze talked about the lapse of appropriations for the Site and the impact of the shutdown.
“We had to start implementing actions due to a lack of appropriations. Those actions included delaying some of our scopes of work,” Hintze said.
In addition, the contractor lost production in regard to its Defense Waste Processing Facility, as well as its salt processing program. Wackenhut Services Incorporated, the security contractor, and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, another waste contractor, were also deferred from work during the shutdown.
Hintze told CAB members and members of the public that SRS is optimistic about receiving funding before another potential lapse that would begin Jan. 15.
“We're hearing there will be appropriations before the Jan. 15 deadline, so that's what our hope is,” Hintze added. “But we're still working to disposition salt and close tanks, so we're still finding innovative ways to do the work we need to do.”
Small modular reactors, or SMRs, were also a major topic at the meeting. The Site's Department of Energy Manager David Moody re-emphasized the Site's support of SMRs, which are reactors with an electricity output of less than 300 megawatts. They are touted by supporters as a way to allow for less on-site construction and a way to increase economic efficiency.
“SRS really should be the site to look for SMRs. All of the expertise required to bring them in and develop them is right here at SRS,” Moody said.
Another topic at Monday's meeting was the Savannah River National Lab. Don Bridges, the CAB chairman, presented several recommendations to the Site. These include developing plans to expand the role of the lab, advising the CAB of plans for increased funding and new missions and increasing public outreach.
“Why not look at where you could expand technology as an applied science laboratory,” said Bridges. “We think the lab is very capable, and we want to see it become more self-sustaining.”
Bill Calhoun, another CAB member, also commented on the national lab.
“The public has a distrust of our institutions,” said Calhoun. “I hope government institutions take the time to market the fact that the public is getting some return on its tax dollars with facilities such as the national lab.”
The CAB meeting will continue today at the Doubletree in Augusta, located at 2651 Perimeter Parkway. The meeting will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., with several opportunities for public comment.
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.