The Savannah River Site's largest contractor is in the process of training its first class of nuclear production operators in more than 15 years to support existing and new missions at the Site.

According to a recent news release, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions – or SRNS – has employed 40 new trainees.

Of the 40 new trainees, 17 have graduated from either Aiken Technical College or Augusta Technical College, and the majority of the trainees were hired locally.

Training manager Mark Kokovich said he is pleased that the new group was hired from the local community, since most of them have family and roots in the area.

“Our company is making a training investment in people who will stay and grow with us as SRNS continues to receive new missions, and as we progressively lose employees through retirement,” Kokovich said in the release.

Kokovich said nine trainees are graduates of the nuclear engineering program at Augusta Tech, and eight are graduates of the radiation protection program offered at Aiken Tech.

He said both programs were specifically created to provide qualified job candidates for openings at SRS and commercial power reactors such as Plant Vogtle.

“The graduates of these programs have gained knowledge and basic fundamentals that will be very helpful toward the successful transition from college to full-time operator,” he said.

Aiken Tech graduate Andrew Brown said his studies at the school were essential in helping him secure a job as an operator trainee.

“Savannah River Nuclear Solutions is putting a lot into this operator training program at SRS, and their approach to safety and conduct of operations is outstanding,” Brown said. “I'm married with a 4-month-old daughter, so I'm very happy to be employed here.”

Once their training is final, the new class of operators will be filling roles in operating facilities across the site and at the Savannah River National Laboratory.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions is a Fluor-led company responsible for the management and operations at the Savannah River Site.

Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.