SRNL, A Area (copy)

The Savannah River National Laboratory is located at the Savannah River Site, which is south of Aiken and near New Ellenton.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The U.S. Department of Energy's science wing has taken a liking to the Savannah River National Laboratory and is actively eyeing a boosted influence there.

"We have been looking closely at how we can have more Office of Science involvement" at the lab, Deputy Under Secretary for Science T.L. Cubbage said Thursday at the 2019 National Cleanup Workshop, responding to a question posed by the Aiken Standard. 

Office of Science officials recently visited and observed the lab.

Both Cubbage and SRNL Director Vahid Majidi – sitting on the same discussion panel – were asked if the national lab would be taken over by the Office of Science, or if there were any plans in the works. Majidi deferred to Cubbage.

The Savannah River National Laboratory 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, and that includes SRS, one of 16 ongoing cleanup areas.

The Office of Science stewards 10 national labs scattered across the country. The office's website lists Savannah River National Laboratory as an "other," alongside installations in Idaho and Colorado.

Work done at the lab, about 30 minutes south of Aiken, covers a wide spectrum: nuclear cleanup, national security and energy manufacturing, among other thrusts.

"We do work for everybody," Majidi said in a follow-up interview.

In early 2018, Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar visited the Savannah River Site. He ultimately signed an agreement naming SRNL the go-to support lab for the DOE Office of Legacy Management, which manages dozens of sites where environmental cleanup has wrapped up.

Dabbar, who spoke Wednesday at the National Cleanup Workshop, oversees both environmental and legacy management missions. He also leads a portion of lab work.

If Savannah River National Laboratory does switch hands, work there likely won't change much.

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