SREL interim co-director forced to step down

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, Sept. 19, 2007

AIKEN, S.C.---An interim co-director at the Savannah River Ecology Lab is stepping down as a result of downsizing.

Dr. Carl Strojan has been a staple at the Savannah River Ecology Lab for 23 years. On Monday, he told his co-workers he was leaving the lab starting October 1st...but not because he wanted to.

At the end of the month, the government's budget for 2008 should be finished. Dr. Strojan won't be around to see if the lab gets any funding from the Department of Energy. That's because the University of Georgia, which runs the lab, forced him to retire or resign. Retirement is his choice.

"My time has come now. So they are moving towards phasing out the laboratory operations," says Dr. Strojan.

The lab hasn't seen funding from the DOE since June. And there's no funding expectation in the upcoming budget either.

"That's been the root of the problem, of course," says Dr. Strojan.

UGA picked up most of the funding for the lab since June, along with external grants. But as the money runs out, so do the jobs and the morale.

Students have the commitment from UGA to finish their degree work, but the possibility of commuting to Athens makes one student upset.

"I'm losing a lot of my faith and drive to do what I want to do. My sense of security is being eroded," says Elizabeth Burgess.

Keeping the lab open was a focus for Dr. Strojan. That's a stance he feels might have played a role in him leaving. He says the university has, "given up any hope that the lab can survive."

Dr. Strojan thinks the reality might be closure.

"If something is going to happen, it has to happen soon because there won't be much to save for much longer."

If the lab does close, up to ten people will remain to do field studies on the site. And there are plans to give the animals away to places like zoos.

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