SRS Sign, SRNL, Office of Science

An entrance to the Savannah River Site. The Savannah River National Laboratory is located at the site.

Savannah River Site manager Michael Budney on Monday said significant attention is being paid to the Savannah River National Laboratory by the science side of the U.S. Department of Energy, reinforcing similar comments made earlier this month by another energy executive.

Budney, providing an update to the Savannah River Site Citizens Advisory Board, said there have been many visits from DOE Office of Science officials who have been "looking at the lab and figuring out how they can get more involved in operations" and ensuring long-term work, among other things.

Senior Office of Science personnel visited in August, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The national lab, about 30 minutes south of Aiken, is currently sponsored by the DOE Office of Environmental Management, the Savannah River Site landlord. Environmental Management is tasked with remediating the nation's Cold War legacy, including at SRS, one of more than a dozen ongoing cleanup areas.

The Office of Science stewards 10 national labs dotted across the country. The office's website lists Savannah River National Laboratory as an "other." Installations in Idaho and Colorado are described the same.

On Sept. 12, responding to a question posed by the Aiken Standard, Deputy Under Secretary for Science T.L. Cubbage said the science office has "been looking closely" at the lab. His remarks were made at the 2019 National Cleanup Workshop in Alexandria, Virginia.

Work done at the Savannah River National Laboratory relates to nuclear cleanup, national security and energy manufacturing, as general examples.

"We do work for everybody," SRNL Director Vahid Majidi said earlier this month.

Budney on Monday emphasized no "final decisions" have been made regarding the Office of Science's thrust or involvement.

If the lab were to change hands – from Environmental Management to Science – the work done there would go largely unchanged.

"And the lab's been doing ... great work," Budney told the citizens advisory board.

Colin Demarest covers the Savannah River Site, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration and government in general. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin