No one will lose their jobs when the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) assumes management of the Savannah River Site in South Carolina from the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management next year, according to a recently published transition plan.
“All incumbent employees will be retained,” the plan states. That pertains at least to employees hired under several contracts, worth billions of dollars, that NNSA will take over from Environmental Management on Oct. 1, 2024.
Once in charge of the site, NNSA’s responsibilities will include the overall $28 billion site management contract and its about 5,000 employees.
The now-310-square-mile facility near Aiken, South Carolins was the locus of plutonium production and tritium for use in the primary stages of U.S. nuclear weapons from the 1950s until 1992, when the Department of Energy’s focus turned to cleaning up the waste generated by Cold War-era nuke production. At that point, the site began operating under the auspices of the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management.
Now the site’s focus is returning to nuclear weapons, as the NNSA and military look to recapitalize the entire U.S. nuclear stockpile. Savannah River will eventually produce at least 50 plutonium pits a year against a national goal of building 80 nuke cores per year sometime after 2030. The other 30 pits per year will be made at the expanded PF-4 Plutonium Facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
“Given the steadily increasing NNSA mission requirements at the SRS and the concurrent progression of the EM clean-up mission toward defined end state(s), a decision was made by EM and NNSA to transition the SRS from EM to NNSA leadership,” a transition plan published Sept. 13 by the NNSA said.
As it stands, the plan assumes primary site management responsibility and bookkeeping will transfer from Environmental Management (EM) to NNSA in fiscal year 2025, which begins on Oct. 1, 2024.
This story first appeared in Defense Daily affiliate publication Weapons Complex Morning Briefing.