More jobs in Aiken County: SRS ramping up plutonium production

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Friday, March 2, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7 o'clock

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) – The Savannah River Site will be officially ramping up their production of plutonium by 2030. Officials say more than 200 job offers for the project have gone out to former Mox employees and more than 100 have been accepted.

Nicole Nelson-Jean, the manager with the National Nuclear Security Administration Savannah River Field Office says Mox will be repurposed into a pit production facility for nuclear weapons.

"I am confident in the Savannah River Site's capabilities to produce 50 pits by 2030," said Nelson-Jean.

She told the Aiken chamber and other local leaders this morning that the US government is making a push to up its nuclear arsenal and they want SRS to be a part of it.

"Since 1950, Savannah River Site has been supporting the national security mission," said Nelson-Jean.

80 pits, which are important parts at the core of a nuclear weapon, will be produced nation-wide. SRS will make 50 of those.

"Already offered, as you heard, several hundred positions to Mox employees, and that doesn't even include the crafts and staff augmentation," said Nelson-Jean.

221 job offers for this new mission have gone out to former Mox employees and 121 have accepted, with more offers on the way.

"Those pits, at least as we know today, will be needed for years and years and generations to come," Nelson-Jean.

Jim Marra, with Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness in Aiken, worked at the Savannah River Remediation for more than 20 years and says the momentum is there.

"I think there's a real energy at the site that this is gonna move forward and that it is moving forward," said Marra.

He says this will take SRS back to its original cold war-era mission when it was producing more weapons-grade plutonium.

"There is an organization being stood up at the site to jump into this conceptual design phase," said Marra.

Marra says the design phase will be key. If it goes smoothly, there's almost no doubt in his mind this will happen. The designs will most likely take a year or two before actual construction or renovations begin.