The National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) decision to study transferring some $300 million in annual defense nuclear materials operations to Tennessee from South Carolina is “routine,” according to the head of the Department of Energy’s cleanup mission at the Savannah River Site.
“This is just a routine kind of process we always go through, especially where there’s different new leadership about looking at doing an evaluation of how things operate and what’s the best way to do it and what’s the most efficient means,” Michael Budney, manager of DoE’s Savannah River Operations Office, told the federally chartered Savannah River Citizens Advisory Board Monday in a meeting webcast from Augusta, Ga.
“We routinely do this at all the places where DoE has a shared site between EM [DoE’s Office of Environmental Management] and NNSA,” Budney said.
In the June 29 memo to which Budney referred — first published by sister publication Weapons Complex Morning Briefing — NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty said the agency was forced to “reevaluate the viability to execute enduring missions at the Savannah River Site” after a federal judge temporarily blocked cancellation of construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility and converting the plant for production of plutonium nuclear warhead triggers.
Among other things, Gordon-Hagerty wrote in the memo, that means studying whether to move the Savannah River Site’s tritium processing mission, currently managed by the Fluor [FLR]-led Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, to the Y-12 National Security Complex, currently managed by the Bechtel-led Consolidated Nuclear Security. The Y-12 manager has an option in its contract to take over the work.
The NNSA working group Gordon-Hagerty convened will also look at changing the contract structure at the Savannah River Site, including having the NNSA taking over landlordship of the site from DoE EM. That might involve the NNSA taking over the site’s H-Canyon chemical separations facility, along with the site’s national lab, Budney said Wednesday.