The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will take over the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C., by 2025, and the transition has started, the Department of Energy confirmed Tuesday.

The former plutonium production site is currently the responsibility of DoE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), the part of the agency responsible for cleaning up shuttered Manhattan Project and Cold War nuclear-weapons production sites.

DoE’s NNSA, however, has been moving in on the site since 2018 or so, when the semiautonomous nuclear-weapons agency decided it would lean on Savannah River to produce the bulk of new U.S. plutonium pits: the fissile cores of nuclear-weapon first stages.

Now, after years of indecision within DoE — which in 2021 canceled a competition to replace EM’s Savannah River Site landlord contractor because of the turf war with NNSA — the nuclear weapons agency will get its way.

DoE is still working out exactly what an NNSA-owned Savannah River Site will look like. There is a liquid-waste cleanup mission there that EM thinks will take at least until the mid-2030s to finish, and the current landlord contractor, the Fluor [FLR]-led Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, will be on the job until at least 2026, under an EM contract the office extended last week.

Citing an internal agency communication, the Energy Communities Alliance, which represents the interests of localities surrounding big DoE sites, reported Monday that the agency had pulled the trigger on the reorganization.

“The Department is beginning the planning and implementation process to transition primary authority for SRS from the Office of Environmental Management (EM) to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA),” the internal agency email reads, according to the Energy Communities Alliance. “This transition is planned to be effective in 2025. The process will take several years and there are no immediate impacts to any contractors or federal employees.”

The Energy Communities Alliance, paraphrasing the internal communication, also said that DoE would not request funding from Congress to turn the site over to the NNSA “until the year prior to the actual transition occurring.”

Seth Kirshenberg, executive director of the Energy Communities Alliance, did not reply to a request for comment.

Following a speech Wednesday morning at an industry conference in Knoxville, William (Ike) White, acting head of EM, told sister publication The Exchange Monitor that final agreement for moving control of the site to NNSA is close but not yet final.

“I think we are getting close to the point where we can roll out, sort out the details of that,” White said.

Last week, at the National Cleanup Workshop hosted by Energy Communities Alliance in Arlington, Va., White said that something might be made public within three months, or “probably a bit earlier.”

In any case, the handover will not alter Savannah River Nuclear Solutions’ extension, White said. “It’s a done thing at this point … so this is not going to change,” White told the Monitor Wednesday in Knoxville.