James L. Folk, Jr. is the Assistant Manager for Waste Disposition (AMWD) at the Savannah River Operations Office in Aiken, South Carolina. Prior to his selection as the AMWD, he served as the Deputy AMWD from 2008 to 2015. Mr. Folk has more than 31 years of experience in nuclear engineering; oversight of safety and technical management with the Department of Energy.
As the AMWD, he is responsible for the management of the liquid and solid waste systems at the Savannah River Site that historically produced materials for use in nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Today, the legacy of weapons materials production has left the site with the challenge of storing highly radioactive liquid waste in in aging underground tanks. The safe management of these liquid wastes that includes putting the waste in a stable form by using a vitrification process, transforming the waste into a solid glass form and ultimate closure of the waste tanks is among the highest priorities at the Savannah River Site. Facilities associated with the Liquid Waste System include: Two liquid waste tank farms containing 51 tanks each with approximately one-million gallon storage capacity; the Defense Waste Processing Facility, the largest vitrification plant in the world and only facility operation in the United States; and the Saltstone Facility, a one-of-a-kind permanent disposal facility for low activity salt waste.
He provides oversight and guidance to a broad range of Waste Disposition functions that include management of more than 100 federal and service support contractor employees. He serves as the senior federal official for the management and oversight of the liquid waste contractor, Savannah River Remediation, with more than 1200 employees and a funding level exceeding $500 million. This includes multiple design, construction and commissioning efforts for nuclear waste treatment facilities and a successful waste tank closure program.
These projects, due to the nature of the liquid high level waste and management of solid wastes, are highly regulated and subject to oversight and cooperation with multiple federal and state agencies. Waste management at the Savannah River Site is also closely followed by members of Congress, State and local elected officials, environmental groups, media organizations and the public. Mr. Folk actively maintains a dialogue with these groups of varied interests.
Mr. Folk’s previous assignments included several leadership positions as Liquid Waste Program Manager and also the Liquid Waste Source Evaluation Board Chairperson. He was responsible for the complete acquisition process from the Acquisition Plan through completion of the Source Evaluation process. The liquid waste procurement represented a first-of-a-kind contract for SRS and it was and continues to be the largest, single focused operating contract ever awarded at SRS.
He began his career as a federal employee in 1983 at the Savannah River Site where he has continued to assume positions of increasing responsibility. During his tenure Mr. Folk has also held positions with Nuclear Materials Production Planning, Reactor Restart Program, Spent Nuclear Fuel Program, Heavy Water Program, Nuclear Materials Disposition Program, and as a Team Lead of Internal Assessment.
Mr. Folk holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. He lives in Aiken, South Carolina with his wife and son.