Infrastructure Improvements

As the designated Community Reuse Organization for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS), our 22‐member citizen‐led Board of Directors has undertaken a study to point out the critical need for improving the deteriorating infrastructure at SRS.  Priority attention needs to be made now to maximize SRS contributions and potential in the years ahead. 

SRS has all the assets required in people, land, expertise and community support to continue to play a key leadership role in America’s nuclear complex and energy future through the 21st Century and beyond.  SRS leads the DOE complex in safety and is situated in the most nuclear-friendly community in the United States.

SRS is not a closure site.  It has clearly defined future missions extending well into this century.  In the near term, those missions center on tritium production, solidification of liquid waste into a vitrified glass form for permanent storage and disposition of excess weapons plutonium by converting into Mixed Oxide Fuel suitable for use in nuclear power reactors.  In the longer horizon, SRS can lead national efforts in nuclear non-proliferation and in resolving complex issues related to closing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle through reprocessing.

Even though, DOE recognizes SRS as the premier location for new initiatives in the areas of energy independence, innovative technology, nuclear security and nonproliferation, as well as environmental stewardship, the SRS infrastructure is approaching 60 years old with one third of  its administrative facilities being greater than 45 years old. Spending for infrastructure repairs/replacements has declined considerably as budget pressures increased and funds were needed to support direct mission activities.

This lack of priority and funding for infrastructure, if not addressed, could dampen the SRS’s ability to attract new missions and meet national challenges. At Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), for example, recent infrastructure expenditures have been less than one percent of the replacement value of the SRNL’s facilities, woefully below commercial standards and benchmarks established at other national laboratories. 

Major initiatives of national importance continue at SRS in spite of the aged infrastructure.  However, needed improvements in SRS infrastructure will only enhance and expand SRS’ role in the nation’s nuclear issues and energy future.

These two elements, aged infrastructure and under funding, have resulted in a large volume of deferred maintenance and the need for capital improvements. Appropriate   planning and funding for SRS infrastructure will ensure that long-term investments are made to meet the priority needs of SRS missions. To spur consideration and discussion of the need for infrastructure improvements, we have taken the initiative to prepare a White Paper outlining some of the important considerations and our recommendations for action.

For a copy of the SRS Infrastructure White Paper, click here.