It’s a new museum committed to the heritage of the Savannah River Site (SRS) which will tell the story of the site’s role in winning the Cold War. The ribbon was cut Monday on the new Savannah River Site Museum in Aiken.
Executive Director of the SRS Heritage Foundation Walt Joseph said the museum was 10 years in the making. “It’s dedicated to preserving and explaining the history of the Savannah River Site, which has been hidden behind veils of secrecy for many years.” Joseph said.
Joseph said they had a lot of support from Aiken County, which donated the former Dibble Memorial Library for the museum. “We’ve been dreaming, planning and working together for ten years to make this happen and it’s finally coming to pass. Largely due to the support from Aiken County.” Joseph said Monday.
The Savannah River Site is a nuclear reservation on land in Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell Counties adjacent to the Savannah River. The site was built during the 1950s to refine nuclear materials for deployment in nuclear weapons. While it is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy, the management and operating contract is held by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions LLC, and the liquid waste operations contract is held by Savannah River Remediation, which is a team of companies led by URS Corp.
A major focus is cleanup activities related to work done in the past for American nuclear buildup. Currently none of the reactors on-site are operating although two of the reactor buildings are being used to consolidate and store nuclear materials. SRS is also home to the Savannah River National Laboratory and the USA’s only operating radiochemical separations facility. Its Tritium facilities are also the United States’ only source of tritium , an essential component in nuclear weapons.
The USA’s only mixed oxide fuel manufacturing plant is under construction at SRS, overseen by the National Nuclear Security Administration. When completed, the MOX facility will convert legacy weapons-grade plutonium into fuel suitable for commercial power reactors.
Future plans for the site cover a wide range of options, including host to research reactors, a reactor park for power generation, and other possible uses. The Energy Department and its corporate partners are watched by a combination of local, regional and national regulatory agencies and citizen groups.
The Savannah River Site covers 310 square miles and employs more than 10,000 people.