SRS Sign, 23 COVID-19

An entrance to the Savannah River Site, a 310-square-mile federal complex south of Aiken.

The U.S. Department of Energy on Tuesday morning reported an additional case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, at its Savannah River Site.

The newly disclosed case brings the site-wide total to 23. The first case of COVID-19 at SRS was recorded in late March.

Sixteen Savannah River Site workers have recovered from coronavirus infection and have returned to work, an Energy Department spokesperson said. Roughly 10,000 people are employed at the nuclear waste- and weapons-focused reserve south of Aiken.

Savannah River Site officials and contractors late last month began a step-by-step, piecemeal return to normal, weeks after the site scaled back to essential mission-critical operations. That posture — assumed amid a pandemic — greatly reduced work done at the site and prioritized its national defense missions, such as tritium.

"As SRS proceeds with a measured approach to increase operations," the Energy Department spokesperson said May 27, "we will continue to monitor and assess local conditions and local restrictions and adjust the pace and scope of activities as necessary."

More than 12,100 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in South Carolina as of Tuesday morning.

Colin Demarest covers the SRS, DOE, its NNSA and government, in general. Support his crucial reporting and local journalism, in general, by subscribing. Follow Colin on Twitter: @demarest_colin.