William Ike White, Augusta Marriott

Senior Adviser for Environmental Management to the Under Secretary for Science William "Ike" White speaks to Thomas Johnson Jr., the Savannah River Site deputy manager, Tuesday night.

The leader of the U.S. Department of Energy's nuclear cleanup office spent time at the Savannah River Site on Tuesday, a casual visit that coincided with a radioactive waste public hearing in Augusta that evening.

William "Ike" White, the senior adviser for Environmental Management to the under secretary for science, got a firsthand look at infrastructure and a handful of facilities at the site, according to people familiar with the matter.

His tour took him to the in-the-works Salt Waste Processing Facility and Building 235-F, a blast-resistant concrete bunker of sorts once used for a plutonium fuel mission.

The SWPF is expected to be up and running around March or April 2020.

White's boots-on-the-ground visit lines up with the recent passage of the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, a $738 billion defense and energy policy bill that has significant sway over SRS. It also comes as funding bills make their way through the U.S. House and Senate ahead of a looming government shutdown.

White, formerly of the National Nuclear Security Administration, heads up the DOE Office of Environmental Management, the Savannah River Site landlord. NNSA chief Lisa Gordon-Hagerty has previously described White as well-suited for the job.

Environmental Management – recently celebrating its 30th anniversary – is tasked with cleaning up the Cold War's environmental legacy.

At SRS, that involves handling and processing millions of gallons of nuclear waste and addressing aging facilities that can be demolished or require remediating and surveillance.

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