Two long standing government bosses, Jeffrey Allison and Randall Hendrickson, lead a joint team working out details of transferring responsibility for the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina to the agency’s nuclear weapons branch from the nuclear cleanup office, feds said Thursday in Aiken, S.C.

The group led by Allison, deputy manager at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Savannah River field office, and Hendrickson, acting head of Environmental Management’s (EM) regulatory and policy affairs, will file an early transition report this summer, according to William (Ike) White.

The leaders of the team “are very carefully chosen because they have the experience that I think we need to be really successful with this effort,” said White, EM’s senior adviser. Allison has been doing DoE and NNSA work, chiefly at Savannah River, since 2002. Before that, he worked for Westinghouse [WX], according to his LinkedIn profile. Hendrickson has logged nearly a decade in executive roles at DoE, EM and NNSA after serving for 30 years in the U.S. Navy, according to his


White and NNSA’s principal deputy administrator Frank Rose addressed a Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness gathering Feb. 2. When EM turns the keys to the Savannah River Site over to NNSA in fiscal 2025, some things will change but others won’t, according to the one-hour presentation, which can be viewed here.

One definite change is that responsibility for Fluor [FLR]-led site operations manager, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, will shift to NNSA, White said. On the other hand, BWX Technologies [BWXT]-led liquid waste contractor, Savannah River Mission Completion, will remain the responsibility of EM, he added. Oversight of some other contractors, those providing security or doing certain construction, is still being worked out, White said in response to a question.

White also said the Savannah River National Laboratory will remain an EM research facility.

The Savannah River Citizens Advisory Board will stick around, chiefly to continue to provide input on EM issues, Rose said.

At NNSA “we are really focused on building nuclear weapons … we are not able to share as much information as EM can because it is of a classified nature,” said Rose.

Speaking of classified work, Rose drew heavy laughter from the crowd when he said there are limits to the degree of telecommuting allowed at NNSA. 

“We cannot bring classified material home…. we have to do it in current locations,” Rose said.

The Nuclear Posture Review and other sobering national security documents make it clear that in the next decade the United States will for the first time be facing not one but two major nuclear rivals, Russia and China, Rose said. 

The Savannah River tritium program and the site’s planned production of plutonium pits, which provide the triggers for nuclear weapons, are key to U.S. weapons modernization, Rose said. Plutonium pit production at Savannah River, which the NNSA thinks could start in the middle of the next decade, will allow the nation to build pits in two locations, he added. The Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico will have the other pit factory.