DOE Sites Partially or Fully Closed: WIPP, Pantex & now Savannah River Site…

From Tom Clements of SRS Watch, our colleague and fellow member of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability:

DOE Sites Partially or Fully Closed: the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Pantex & now the Savannah River Site (SRS)

The main contractor at SRS, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), has halted non-essential operations. See SRS shutdown email below…sent out late on Friday afternoon.

Today’s shutdown stems from operational and procedural problems while preparing plutonium oxide “feedstock” (for fuel pellets) for the Mixed Oxide (MOX) program back in February.

The plutonium oxide for MOX (or perhaps for another disposition option if MOX goes down) has been prepared in the HB-Line, which sits atop the decrepit H-Canyon reprocessing plant.  The National Nuclear Security Administration has been paying the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management division, which manages the H-Canyon, for this job.  Problems developed when a plutonium solution tank was not properly monitored by SRNS staff.  After being shut for six months, H-Canyon operations resumed a few weeks ago but problems have persisted.

Just like for the MOX program at SRS, there is absolutely no accountability for EM contractors at SRS, and every year they just collect a bonus, few questions asked. How long will DOE Secretary Moniz and Congress allow the lack of accountability for MOX, the Uranium Processing Facility, the Waste Treatment Plant, etc,, to go on?

As per the DOE’s Public Relations “Conduct of Operations” textbook [sarcastic], they sent out the public notice below at 5:25 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Go DOE! [A classic maneuver to avoid media attention.]


[Note: The Pantex Plant, the nation’s site for nuclear weapons assembly and dismantlements (lots of the former, not so much of the latter], is effectively shut down because of a serious labor dispute. The multi-billion dollar Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has been closed since February 2014 following contamination by a ruptured barrel of radioactive wastes sent by the Los Alamos Lab.]


From: james-r.giusti <>
Subject: DOE-SR UPDATE … Savannah River Nuclear Solutions Pauses All Non-essential Operations at SRS
Date: Fri, Sep 11, 2015 5:25 pm

Based on recent Conduct of Operations issues identified with HB-Line activities, effective today Savannah River Nuclear Solutions has implemented an operational safety pause for all non-essential and discretionary Office of Environmental Management activities site-wide.  All work activities are on hold for those facilities under the SRNS management and operations contract.

SRNS is developing a recovery plan for resuming non-essential and discretionary operations and the plan will be submitted to the Department for review and concurrence.  The plan will include corrective actions that will be implemented to assure workers adhere to management expectations for safe work performance, to reinforce accountability, and to re-initiate work in a controlled, phased manner.  

SRNS will notify the DOE-SR management of any non-essential or discretionary work that SRNS believes needs to be performed before executing the work.

This operational safety pause does not affect other contractors at SRS.

James R. Giusti
DOE-SR Office Of External Affairs
W:      (803) 952-7684
M:    (803) 645-1350

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