Feds at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina are busy planning to transfer responsibility for the complex to DoE’s nuclear weapons office from the cleanup branch in fiscal 2025, a top local boss said Monday.

“As we discussed before, we have been charged to come up with a plan by June to do the transition of the landlord responsibility

,” Michael Budney, manager of the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site office, told the site’s Citizens Advisory Board.

“The planning is well underway,” for the transfer to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) from the Office of Environmental Management, Budney said. William (Ike) White, senior advisor for the Office of Environmental Management in Washington, and NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Frank Rose were set to visit Aiken, S.C., next week to discuss the changeover, Budney said.

The scheduled Feb. 2 White-Rose joint presentation to the Aiken-based Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness is sold out, James Marra, the group’s director, told the Citizens Advisory Board Monday. But the nuclear technology group is working with DoE on plans to make a video of the event available online, he added.  

Budney said the transfer to NNSA should have little if any impact on environmental work. The semi-autonomous NNSA is playing a bigger role at the site, turning the unfinished Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility into the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility.

Savannah River Citizens Advisory Board Chair Gregg Murray has drafted a resolution stressing that the board and nuclear remediation remain important following handover. 

“Regardless of which organization has primary authority for the site, there is still substantial environmental cleanup to be completed following decades of nuclear weapons materials production and research at the site,” according to an advisory board proposal to be considered Tuesday.

On other topics, Budney said Savannah River will be working with the Government Accountability Office on plans for an upcoming report into accelerated spent fuel removal from the L-Basin storage area. 

The DoE signed off on plans in April 2022 to conventionally process spent fuel left in L-Basin through H-Canyon without uranium recovery. The report was called for in the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, Budney said.

Meanwhile, all 51 radioactive waste tanks at Savannah River Site should be emptied by 2037, Budney said, marking a major milestone in the site’s big liquid-waste cleanup mission.  

Elsewhere on site, Savannah River Site should have 16 electric vehicle charging stations installed by the end of this fiscal year, Budney said.  The site is required to replace its fleet of pick-up trucks and sedans with electric vehicles by 2027, he added.

Off site, construction on the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative building at the University of South Carolina-Aiken should start within three-to-four weeks and be complete in fiscal 2025, Budney said.