James Therrell, mission planning manager for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions EM operations, discusses vessels and equipment used in H Canyon to educators from Aiken, Orangeburg and Barnwell counties during a tour of the chemical separations facility.
James Therrell, mission planning manager for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions EM operations, discusses vessels and equipment used in H Canyon to educators from Aiken, Orangeburg and Barnwell counties during a tour of the chemical separations facility.

AIKEN, S.C. – Teachers from Aiken, Orangeburg and Barnwell counties in South Carolina recently learned what it takes to successfully lead students to a future in the nuclear industry during the Savannah River Site’s (SRS) first educator tour of the H Canyon Chemical Separations Facility.

“Attending educators were able to witness the scale and variety of work we do inside this national treasure,” said Kim Mitchell, Education Outreach programs lead for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the site’s management and operations contractor. “Being able to experience H Canyon’s unmatched safety and security culture in a limited security area is a wonderful addition to our educator tours.”

H Canyon began operations in 1955. It’s a one-of-a-kind national asset serving the state, nation and world by processing weapons-grade nuclear materials for disposition out of South Carolina. H Canyon is the only operating, production-scale, radiologically shielded chemical separations facility in the United States, making it a unique tour opportunity.

Barnwell High School Career Specialist Judy “JJ” Cone was impressed by the sheer size of H Canyon.

“This opportunity put into perspective the unique and advanced operations of the site,” said Cone. “I would recommend other educators take part in this tour and gain firsthand knowledge of the types of career specialties available to our students.”

Barnwell High School Career Specialists Kaylyn Baxley, left, and Judy “JJ” Cone, right, reconnect with Dylan Bowen, who is one of their former students and a Savannah River Site employee, during an H Canyon tour.
Barnwell High School Career Specialists Kaylyn Baxley, left, and Judy “JJ” Cone, right, reconnect with Dylan Bowen, who is one of their former students and a Savannah River Site employee, during an H Canyon tour.

The tour provided an overview of operations at SRS with an emphasis on connecting classroom material with future career opportunities at the site.

“It was a full-circle moment running into one of my old students, Dylan, during this tour,” said Kaylyn Baxley, a career specialist with Barnwell High School. “He is a prime example that you can have a secure and well-paying job straight out of high school through the site’s apprenticeship and internship programs.”

SRNS Education Outreach personnel hope to offer more tailored community tours to provide a better understanding of different SRS areas and missions.

“Educators can implement what they experienced during this tour, taking it back into the classroom where it can impact hundreds of students,” said Mitchell. “By utilizing in-person tours, we continue to highlight and promote the positions we need filled that can positively impact the workforce.”