Stimulus may bring 3,000 jobs to SRS

Savannah River Site could receive up to $1.9 billion -- and create as many as 3,000 jobs -- from President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus package.

According to a U.S. Department of Energy document that breaks down the $6 billion in environmental-management money included in the 1,100-page bill, SRS is second only to the Hanford Site in Washington state in terms of dollars and potential job creation.

The breakdown, obtained Wednesday by The Augusta Chronicle , was distributed this week to selected officials with the Energy Communities Alliance, a national nonprofit organization of local governments and economic development groups that are near nuclear weapon sites.

"We're all kind of waiting for more details," said Rick McLeod, executive director of the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization, a local affiliate of the alliance. "We've heard the 3,000 figure, too, but we don't have anything official from SRS."

The breakdown noted the stimulus package originally included $6.4 billion for environmental management and cleanup, but the amount was trimmed to "roughly" $6 billion before its adoption.

Mr. McLeod said the figures in the table might represent the highest levels of funding and jobs. Even if the final numbers are less, he said, it will still be a substantial boost to the community and the SRS cleanup.

"We've heard anything from $1 billion to $2 billion, but none of it is confirmed," he said. "My understanding is we should hear more on how all this will shake out in the next week."

Current employment at SRS is about 11,000. New jobs financed with stimulus package dollars might be temporary, existing only for the duration of specific construction, demolition or cleanup projects.

Representatives of the Energy Department at SRS and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions -- the site's primary contractor -- would neither confirm nor deny the numbers, saying only that a "comprehensive" announcement about the recovery program's effect on SRS will be made sometime next week.

The report also estimated $2.036 billion and 4,414 jobs at Hanford; $1.039 billion and 2,710 jobs at Oak Ridge, Tenn.; and smaller amounts at a dozen other facilities.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.