Sun, May 26, 2024

Major project at Savannah River Site will create 1,000’s of jobs

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) continues to lay the groundwork to be ready to resume Pit production on-site by 2035. The immediate need will be to staff the Plutonium (PU) Modernization Program. Those individuals will develop and train the workforce needed for the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility (SRPPF).

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) approved the Workforce Development Program Plan opening the way for scholarships to cover educational and training at area colleges and universities.

“SRNS has recognized the need to engage in workforce planning for the plutonium pit

production mission and has taken steps to address workforce development needs,” according to a news release quoting Jason Ashe, Pu Modernization Program Manager. “We are actively engaging local colleges and universities in developing programs to recruit, train, and retain skilled and knowledgeable employees needed to produce plutonium pits.”

Last November, Dennis Carr, President and CEO of SRNS spoke to the Good Morning, North Augusta, sponsored by the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce, and presented a video highlighting the future impact of SRPPF.

SRNS President and CEO, Dennis Carr showed video highlights of the growth potential to North Augusta Chamber members in November.

“It is expected that SRPPF will require more than 1,800 highly skilled personnel to perform machine welding and testing of plutonium metal parts. SRS is currently working with local and regional technical schools and universities, including historically black colleges and universities to expand training programs and apprenticeship opportunities,” explained the video.

Carr said the design phase of the project is about 50% complete. They hope to begin construction in 2025. He added the hiring and job growth will come in two phases with the construction phase requiring upwards of 3,500 workers and over the next five years there could be as many as 9,200 new hires at the site.

The latest news release said approximately 2,000 employees will be needed once SRPPF is fully operational. They will need staff for engineering, maintenance, operations, security, and information technology.

SRPPF is under construction at the site of the failed Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility. MOX was touted as a way to convert weapons-grade plutonium to fuel pellets for commercial nuclear plants. Construction began in 2007, but was plagued by delays and mismanagement. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission ultimately ended construction in early 2019.

SRPPF will be built at the site of the failed MOX facility.

SRS and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico were selected to begin production of pits to replace the aging inventory. A total of 80 pits a year will be produced, 50 at the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility (SRPPF) and the remainder at Los Alamos. Production is set to begin in 2035.

More information on the apprenticeship opportunities is available at: www.srs.gov/general/outreach/apprenticeship/apprenticeship_school.htm

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