AIKEN — Savannah River Site will build on its past to capture a pivotal role in the nation’s nuclear future, the site’s senior federal manager said Friday.
“We believe, once again, we’ll be at the nuclear forefront of this country,” David Moody, the Department of Energy’s Savannah River manager, said at a community forum at Aiken Technical College.
Though many jobs involve cleanup of Cold War weapons waste, future activity will expand into more research and production of some of the world’s first small, modular nuclear reactors.
“We believe we will be the showcase for that technology,” Moody said. Congress has authorized financial incentives to promote the technology to build self-contained, pre-manufactured reactors that can be easily transported and deployed, he said.
“We are supporters of all seven currently viable entities trying to compete for those funds,” he said, and SRS will pursue projects in which private firms would use the site’s resources to develop and build the small reactors.
“We believe, in just 10 or 15 years, we will be totally off the grid,” Moody said, predicting that a site-built reactor would provide energy for SRS, with surplus power that could be used for other facilities, possibly even Fort Gordon.
The forum, sponsored by the SRS Community Reuse Organization, also included a presentation by Savannah River National Lab Director Terry Michalske.
“Our competencies are around all things nuclear,” he said, adding that the lab’s 1,000 workers include some of the leading national and international experts in some of the most technically complex nuclear fields.
Though the lab is a perennial leader in environmental cleanup technology, it also plays a growing role in national security programs, he said.
One of the newest such initiatives involves housing the world’s only radiologically capable crime lab, which is operated for the FBI.
To date, Michalske said, the facility has been used for about 20 cases and held training programs for about 700 federal agents.
One of the lab’s newest functions involves a border protection program with technology to scan shipping containers at American ports for nuclear materials.
Other speakers included the National Nuclear Security Administration’s site manager, Doug Dearolph; Savannah River Nuclear Solutions President Dwayne Wilson; Savannah River Remediation President Dave Olson; Shaw Areve MOX President Kelly Trice; Parsons Salt Waste project Director Roy Schepens; and Ameresco Manager Ken Chacey.