New report details a possible future for Savannah River Site

By: Chad Mills
By: Chad Mills

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, July 16, 2011

SAVANNAH RIVER SITE, S.C. -- Dr. David Moody is the Department of Energy Manager at Savannah River Site.

"We believe the site has the potential to be the spark-plug that drives the nuclear future of this country," he said.

With the federal stimulus money all dried up, a wave of lay-offs looms over SRS.

"We need to be cutting some of our overhead. We've identified another couple of hundred, so we're looking at around 1,600 at this point," he told News 12.

And more lay-offs may come. To understand the present, Moody says you have to know the past.

"The site really was key to winning the Cold War," he said.

With that war long gone, the focus of SRS has changed over time. Some say that SRS will slowly wane from existence, but Moody says that won't happen under his watch.

"We believe the site will step up again," he told News 12.

A path for the future is outlined in a draft report released this week by SRS. The site will focus on three main goals: making clean energy, cleaning up nuclear waste while maintaining the environment, and still helping defend the nation. But don't expect a lot of new construction right now.

"In this economy, you really have to look at what you do best, what capabilities do you currently have, and what can you do efficiently and economically," he said.

The report includes specific details about future projects, which include things like creating hydrogen fuel for vehicles and powering a place like Fort Gordon with small, portable nuclear reactors called Small Modular Reactors.

"I really believe that it's not only a realistic goal, it's essential," Moody said.

It's essential, given the economic impact of SRS on this area. A recent report was drawn up by The O’Connell Center for Executive Development at the University of South Carolina Aiken and commissioned by the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization (SRSCRO). It shows that for every job at SRS, 2.5 more are created locally. Also, SRS' budget last year was about $ 2 billion. Out of that amount, $ 1.9 billion went back into the local economy. Furthermore, out of the thousands of workers out there, about 85% are locals.

The report concludes that Savannah River Site has a huge economic impact on this area, and if it fails the consequences would be felt all around the CSRA: "Without continued SRS funding or future new missions, local employment will continue to shrink, and this would strongly affect local productivity, output, income, and tax revenue. Given the higher SRS salaries and benefits, many more non-SRS jobs would have to be created to compensate for the loss in SRS positions."

Click here to read the full report by USC Aiken and SRSCRO

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