Stuart MacVean, SRNS, Aiken Rotary

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions President and CEO Stuart MacVean speaks to the Aiken Rotary Club on Monday afternoon.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the managing contractor at the Savannah River Site, is looking to hire hundreds and hundreds of people in the months ahead.

SRNS President and CEO Stuart MacVean on Monday, speaking to the Aiken Rotary Club, said he expects to hire about 1,000 people in fiscal year 2020. The federal government's fiscal year is a 12-month period beginning Oct. 1.

"So we're going to grow that population right back to where the site has been, traditionally, for about 20 years, at about the 12,000-person mark," MacVean said, presenting alongside former SRNS chief Chuck Munns, a retired Navy vice admiral and current adviser to the U.S. energy and defense departments.

That figure is in line with predictions made earlier this year.

In April, the management and operations contractor announced it had hired more than 900 people in fiscal year 2019.

"We have enduring missions to perform involving nuclear materials management, environmental stewardship and the Savannah River National Laboratory, as examples," MacVean said in a statement at the time. "Performing these missions safely, securely and efficiently requires we maintain certain levels of staffing throughout our organization."

SRNS has hired thousands of people since October 2014. MacVean has previously discussed battling a "retirement cliff," an aging workforce and related attrition rates.

The Savannah River Site liquid waste contractor, Savannah River Remediation, in February announced they had hired nearly 400 new people the year prior.

"The missions at the Savannah River Site have been going strong since the 1950s," an SRR official has said.

The recent and predicted hiring paces come at a time when the Savannah River Site, a 310-square-mile nuclear reserve 30 minutes south of Aiken, is in flux but poised for growth.

An enduring plutonium pit production mission, crafting nuclear weapon triggers, has been recommended for the site. That would bring more than 1,000 jobs, officials have estimated. In the same vein, the tritium mission at SRS – supplying and processing a radioactive form of hydrogen used in nuclear weapons – is set to expand and develop.

"You can see we've done some job projections," MacVean said. "They get pretty big in a very short period of time."

The DOE Office of Science has also expressed interest in the Savannah River National Laboratory, interest that could ultimately bolster the already extensive spectrum of work done 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 at the 2019 National Cleanup Workshop in Alexandria, Virginia.

SRS manager Michael Budney recently told a nuclear advisory board there have been many visits from 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, as was previously reported by the Aiken Standard.

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