Savannah River Site officials said the Site has never received the full amount of money it has requested for environmental management work.
Site Manager Dave Moody and financial officer Doug Hintze spoke at an SRS budget forum on Thursday at Aiken Technical College. The event was hosted by the SRS Community Reuse Organization.
While the Site did receive $46 million more this year than requested in the federal budget, Hintze said it's been 15 years since SRS has had full appropriations to match its projected scope of work.
“Last year was a little worse because of the lapse in appropriations,” Hintze said. “Relying on temporary funding, or continuing resolutions, makes it even harder to know what we're working with each year in terms of our funding.”
Despite falling short of its requested funding, the Site showed that it has performed well with the funding it does receive, according to Moody.
Planned accomplishments for the rest of the year include continued disposition of transuranic waste, which is ready to be shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, processing of radioactive waste and initiating production of plutonium oxide suitable for use in the Site's MOX facility.
According to Moody, the National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, has funded the Site to purify plutonium as a feed for the MOX project. While related in that aspect, Moody said he could not comment on the controversy surrounding the MOX project.
“We are continuing to do that and NNSA is continuing to fund that,” Moody said. “In addition to that, we are taking off-speck plutonium that is not suitable to MOX and we are denaturing that so we can discard it at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.”
The event was attended by several local leaders, including Susan Winsor, Aiken Tech president and chair of the Reuse Organization.
“The budget picture is better this year, and we know DOE is making more progress. The SRS budget is important to every citizen in this region,” Winsor said.
David Jameson, the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, added, “It's only been in the last couple of years that the DOE and local officials have been able to come out and talk like this to us and kind of prepare us for what's happening in 2015. This is the first time I've heard this and fiscal year 2015 starts on Sept. 1. It's high-time we hear this kind of information because it takes so long to digest it.”
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.