The Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site is a unique national defense asset for our nation, and its $2.3 billion annual budget makes it a huge economic development engine for the CSRA. However, SRS is much more than an economic engine, with nearly 12,000 SRS employees making a difference every day delivering national defense missions and cleaning up the environmental legacy from the Cold War. We take great pride in our work to make the world safer.
The decision by the National Nuclear Security Administration to terminate the MOX Project was estimated to save the taxpayers $30 billion while instituting a faster, cheaper solution to plutonium disposition, and was a significant turning point for the site. The pivot and transition of a large population of SRS has been performed flawlessly and the work to repurpose the unfinished MOX Facility into the proposed plutonium processing facility is moving forward.
With good stewardship of taxpayer dollars foremost in our minds as we repurpose and find alternate uses for MOX property, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions has been following a prescribed federal process. We are pleased to report that of the nearly 10 million units of property remaining at MOX, 8 million units have already been designated for reuse at SRS or other DOE projects across the complex, with the remaining property in the review process. On NNSA’s behalf, SRNS is providing scrap stainless steel from the project to area schools with the first of 18 planned donations delivered in Allendale and Aiken in late October. A large construction crane and a large mobile concrete batch plant will go to the SRS Community Reuse Organization and there will be additional opportunities for the remaining materials to benefit the community as well.
• Support to the Savannah River Site and our region remains strong as demonstrated by the NNSA announcement of its plans to invest $3 billion at SRS over the next five years, for both the proposed plutonium mission and upgrades at the site’s tritium production facilities.
• Commitment to the region is demonstrated through the millions invested in the Workforce Opportunities in Regional Careers program, which is administered by SRSCRO, and partners with regional two- and four-year institutions on the long-term workforce needs related to SRS missions.
• NNSA has also identified an additional $250,000 next year for SRNS’ successful Educational Outreach efforts, ensuring that K-12 students and their teachers are aware and prepared for SRS career opportunities.
• Due to the tremendous construction boom in the Southeast, additional emphasis will be placed on attracting and retaining needed workers with the requisite skills and experience for planned capital projects.
South Carolina communities have benefited from SRS for decades and will long into the future. Over just the past 10 years, SRNS has donated more than $10 million in the local communities, which is matched by SRNS employees through United Way and other charitable contributions, not to mention the numerous volunteer hours our employees generously donate. The government makes payments in lieu of taxes based on the site footprint to Barnwell, Aiken and Allendale counties of $6-8 million a year.
Economic development near the site boundaries is an important part of DOE’s commitment to adjacent communities, such as the tire recycling operation in Jackson that shreds 24,000 pounds of used tires each year to produce SRS energy and steam; warehouse leasing in Barnwell; and leased space where Savannah River National Laboratory researchers work in partnership with Aiken County at its Applied Research Campus. DOE is also currently exploring on-site training facilities for the South Carolina National Guard and has earmarked 750 acres off Highway 125 to potentially develop a 65-acre solar farm with Dominion.
In 2020, SRS employees and our community will celebrate a great milestone: the site’s 70th anniversary. I am confident that meeting our commitments for our DOE customer, along with the support of our local communities, will position SRS and our region to continue to see new economic development investments as we play a vital role in our national defense for another 70 years and beyond.