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Savannah River Site budget stable in 2012 but cuts possible in 2013

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Savannah River Site’s approved federal budget promises relatively smooth sailing for the fiscal year, but uncertainties for 2013 could result in fewer dollars.

Based on the budget signed by the president in late December, the site’s Environmental Management allocation will increase by $23.8 million over the fiscal 2011 budget of $1.3 billion.

“There was an almost $24 million increase but as a percentage we pretty much flatlined for 2012 from 2011,” said Jim Giusti, a U.S. Energy Department spokesman at the site.

The fiscal year began Oct. 1, 2011, even though an official budget has only recently been finalized.

Fiscal 2013 will begin Oct. 1, and that budget year is likely to bring changes because of a presidential edict that federal agencies prepare to reduce their budgets by 10 percent.

“The president has to submit a budget to meet those mandatory cuts to reduce debt,” Giusti said. “Congress then gets to act to determine who gets what cuts to make up that money.”

Although the 10 percent is not necessarily across the board, such a reduction would amount to $130 million or more for the site’s varied Environmental Management programs, which include cleanup activities and the repackaging, storage and transportation of radioactive waste.

Last year, workforce restructuring organized by the site’s primary contractors resulted in the elimination of about 1,400 jobs.

The site employs about 12,000 people, with no approved restructuring plans on tap for fiscal 2012.

In addition to the site’s Environmental Management budget, SRS is also funded for programs managed by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Those projects include the under-construction Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility and related programs involved in the disposition of surplus plutonium from dismantled nuclear warheads; and the site’s tritium facilities, where tritium gas reservoirs used in nuclear warheads are periodically recharged.

Those programs will receive $829.8 million in fiscal 2012, a decline from the $916.5 million in fiscal 2011, according to the budget.

The change was due mainly to the reduction of funds for a freestanding facility where plutonium pits would be disassembled for use in the MOX plant.


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