SRS funds may be reduced in 2011

Funding for Savannah River Site and its critical cleanup and nuclear nonproliferation programs will have only minor changes for fiscal 2010, but a series of reviews under way by the Obama administration could bring broader changes by fiscal 2011.


The president's fiscal year 2010 budget request, submitted to Congress last week, would allocate $1.21 billion to SRS, compared with $1.227 billion for 2009.

Those figures do not include a $1.9 billion appropriation to SRS from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.

Much of the stimulus money, along with a substantial portion of the regular budget, is devoted to cleanup programs associated with the site's many decades of activity as a producer of nuclear weapons materials.

"Overall, environmental cleanup at SRS continues to receive well over $1 billion and thus remains the king of all funding, which is exactly where the emphasis at the site should be," said Tom Clements, the southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth.

One of the primary construction projects under way at SRS is the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, which will be used to dispose of surplus plutonium.

That project continues to receive funding in the 2010 budget.

The MOX facility, which is about 15 percent complete, will play a major role in disposing of a growing volume of surplus weapons grade plutonium, according to the budget request.

"The nuclear weapons are disassembled at the Pantex Plant in Texas. Plutonium pits from inside those nuclear weapons will be sent to SRS, where they will be disassembled and converted to an oxide form, which will then be processed at the MOX facility into commercial nuclear reactor fuel."

Although relatively few changes were included in the 2010 budget, many things could change in 2011, according to a news release from the National Nuclear Security Administration.

"The FY 2010 budget request comes as the Administration is working on a series of national reviews that will articulate a new strategic vision that places the stewardship of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, nonproliferation programs, and international arms control objectives into one comprehensive strategy," the statement said. "When those strategic reviews are complete NNSA will review and adjust its outyear budgets and programs in order to right-size the nuclear security enterprise to the policy objectives defined by the President."

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FY 2008FY 2009Proposed FY 2010
SR National Laboratory$58.6 million$58.5 million$61.48 million
SR Operations Office$12.386 million$14.8 million$18.3 million
Savannah River Site$1.068 billion$1.154 billion$1.130 billion
$1.139 billion$1.227 billion$1.210 billion

Source: U.S. Department of Energy