Source: Savannah River Site
Date: 5/1/96    Record No.: 10321
Contact: General phone, 800-228-3843 (Industry Partnerships); 803-725-6211 (Site Operator); 803-725-3001 (Site Information)

People at SRS are quick to point out that "we are not a national lab." It is a DOE facility, focusing on national security, economic development and tech transfer, and environmental and waste management activities. It is operated under contract by the Westinghouse Savannah River Company (WSRC), and covers over 300 square miles in South Carolina. It employs about 16,000 people, including employees of WSRC, its subcontractors, the National Forest Service, and the Savannah River Ecology Lab. Also, DOE personnel and Wackenhut, a contract services firm.

In 1989, SRS began lifting the veil of secrecy under which it had been traditionally operated, while its mission changed dramatically with the end of the cold war. SRS was built in the 50s to produce tritium and plutonium 239 for nuclear weapons and other isotopes for research purposes. There were five reactors, two chemical separation plants, a heavy water extraction plant, a nuclear fuel and target fabrication facility and waste management facilities. All five reactors are now permanently shut down, and while production of new tritium won't be needed for many years, the reloading of tritium in the current supply of weapons is a continuing site mission, using the new state-of-the-art Replacement Tritium Facility (RTF).

Waste Management and Environmental Restoration.
Weapons production over the years has produced 35 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste on site. Just recently, the Defense Waste Processing Facility began operation. It bonds radioactive materials in borosilicate glass. There are also low-level solid and liquid radioactive waste, transuranic waste, mixed waste, hazardous waste, and sanitary waste. SRS has over 400 inactive waste and groundwater units in its restoration program, where over 80 acres of land have already been certified as remediated. Decontamination and decommissioning of SRS facilities is also part of the effort. More than 600 surplus facilities are currently being assessed, involving chemicals, radionuclides, and/or asbestos. Cleanup will take decades, and the technology to do it plays a major part in the tech transfer and economic development missions of the site.

The Savannah River Technology Center (SRTC).
SRTC is an applied R&D organization (known as the "Lab" division) that provides technical support for the Savannah River Site (SRS), developing and testing equipment and techniques for nuclear materials processing, environmental remediation, environmental protection, waste processing, decontamination and decommissioning, and industrial uses of SRS technology. SRTC has approximately 1000 employees. The four main departments are:
- Applied Science and Engineering Technology (instrumentation, robotics, corrosion, fluid dynamics, computational modeling)
- Waste Management & Environmental Technology (high level waste, solid waste, environmental restoration, assessments and modeling)
- Chemical Process Technology (analytical services, instruments, and sensors; chemical and hydrogen technology)
- Technology Business Development (includes Industry Partnerships)

In addition, there are the Community Outreach Division and the Environmental Safety, Health and Quality Assurance Divisions. Also, the University of Georgia operates its Ecology Lab at the site.

Technology Transfer at SRS.
SRS/SRTC is a very recent entrant to the Federal government's tech transfer effort. They were first allowed to do CRADAs only less than two years ago.

John Veldman heads the Technology Business Development Department, which handles government and industry alliances. Karen Azzaro is Manager, Industrial Partnerships, and a number of people in that group are each assigned to distinct "product lines," including remediation, sensors/robotics, vitrification, waste management and hydrogen.

The primary contact for UFTO is: Beverly Skwarek, Industry Partnerships, 803-652-1836, fax 803-652-1898, beverly.swarek@srs.gov

In an approach very similar to the one at Idaho National Engineering Lab (INEL), the Thermo Electron Corp. formed a new subsidiary to perform a contract at SRS to 1) support SRS in market research and business plan preparation, and 2) evaluate and pursue commercialization of selected technologies.

Economic Development.
SRS is aggressively pursuing new kinds of economic and business endeavors for the site, noting a number of unique attributes, especially its land, facilities, and human resources. The Multipurpose Pilot Plant Campus is an R&D facility now available to outside organizations, offering buildings, support structures and a number of special purpose facilities and laboratories.

Since the site has been exhaustively characterized, it serves as a "National Environmental Research Park" and as a testbed for new energy and environmental waste management technology, like NREL is for renewables. In one case, SRS has a CRADA with an industrial firm to develop a clean slurry fuel from municipal solid waste. Another proposed project is for a micro algae pond adjacent to a coal plant.

SRS leads the DOE national Groundwater Plumes Focus Area, charged with acquiring and applying the latest cleanup technology. In fact, 2 of the 5 DOE Energy Management/Office of Technology Development focus areas are centered at SRS. They also have the lead on landfill stabilization and contaminant phenomena focus area (these two have recently been combined).

Another target area is commercial nuclear waste, with an idea to establish a nuclear "corridor" in the southeast, capitalizing on all the nuclear expertise and capabilities in the region.