Office of Environmental Management

DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar Visits SRS

March 6, 2018

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Savannah River National Laboratory Senior Fellow Scientist Bob Pierce (right) explains the research he is conducting for processing graphite fuel to Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar (left) and Taylor Playforth of DOE Congressional Affairs.
Savannah River National Laboratory Senior Fellow Scientist Bob Pierce (right) explains the research he is conducting for processing graphite fuel to Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar (left) and Taylor Playforth of DOE Congressional Affairs.

AIKEN, S.C. – Department of Energy (DOE) Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar recently visited the Savannah River Site (SRS) to learn more about site operations and the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL).

   On day one of his two day visit, Dabbar focused on nuclear operations with stops at all the site’s major nuclear materials management and cleanup facilities. He received an overview of the Plutonium Down-blend process in K Area. Dabbar then toured the L Area Disassembly Basin and Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage, followed by a briefing on nuclear processing in H Canyon, the only operating, production-scale, radiologically shielded chemical separations facility in the United States. Dabbar also visited the facilities housing the Savannah River Tritium Enterprise, which is operated by the site’s managing and operating contractor, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, for the National Nuclear Security Administration. SRTE helps to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile by supplying gas transfer systems, which ensure the performance of nuclear weapons. 

   Other highlights included a liquid waste overview at the Defense Waste Processing Facility, a stop at the Salt Waste Processing Facility and a tour of the Saltstone Disposal Unit

DOE Facility Representative for the Defense Waste Processing Facility Keith Sandroni (right) provides an overview of DWPF melter operations to Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar.
DOE Facility Representative for the Defense Waste Processing Facility Keith Sandroni (right) provides an overview of DWPF melter operations to Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar.
Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar (left) and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions Materials Disposition Engineer Mike Lewczyk watch as H Canyon Crane Operator Bruce Cain demonstrates using remote-control cranes.
Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar (left) and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions Materials Disposition Engineer Mike Lewczyk watch as H Canyon Crane Operator Bruce Cain demonstrates using remote-control cranes.

   On the second day, Dabbar signed an agreement establishing EM’s Savannah River National Laboratory as the lead national laboratory providing technical support to DOE’s management of remediated cleanup sites.

   According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the DOE Office of Legacy Management (DOE-LM) will gain formal access to SRNL technical expertise and assistance. Since the mid-1990s, the lab has addressed critical technical issues for DOE-LM, which manages and monitors more than 90 sites in the former nuclear weapons complex where environmental cleanup has been completed.

Dr. Terry A. Michalske (left), Director of Savannah River National Laboratory, Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar, and Michael Budney, Manager of the Savannah River Operations Office.
Dr. Terry A. Michalske (left), Director of Savannah River National Laboratory, Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar, and Michael Budney, Manager of the Savannah River Operations Office.

   SRNL is the lead national laboratory supporting ongoing cleanup by the DOE Office of Environmental Management. The MOU designates the laboratory as lead for DOE-LM as well. 

   “This MOU facilitates SRNL an opportunity to provide technology for DOE’s Legacy Management office for their long-term environmental stewardship mission, with access to some of the best environmental scientists and engineers in the nation,” said Dabbar. 

   In addition, Dabbar toured the unique facilities at SRNL’s main campus and the materials science laboratories at its Applied Research Campus. Among the highlights of the visit were a stop at the SRNL Tritium Research Laboratories, a briefing on SRNL innovations in high-level waste processing, an overview of its nuclear materials processing expertise in the SRNL Shielded Cells Facility and a discussion about advanced manufacturing.

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