The U.S. Department of Energy is seeking the $50 million it believes it needs to design and build a facility intended to reduce the cost and time of cleaning up nuclear waste at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C.
The request in the fiscal 2020 budget rollout comes after a two-year standstill regarding the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative (AMC), a 60,000-square-foot off-site facility.
The department had been largely silent on the venture since its introduction in December 2015. This is the first budget request for the program.
Meanwhile, stakeholders around the 310-square-mile Savannah River Site advocated for progress in bringing the facility to fruition.
It remains unclear when construction would start, but the budget request is encouraging, said Will Williams, a member of the Aiken Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. Headed by a local economic development group, the partnership is working with the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and site management and operations contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) on the project.
Williams said the parties met briefly last fall to discuss the best way to fund the project. But that was all he had heard on the matter until the budget proposal. “When the President’s budget was released we began engaging almost immediately,” Williams said via email. “DOE has made this project a priority and have continued to push to get it funded.”
He said the partnership has held in-person meetings with other local stakeholders, including the University of South Carolina-Aiken and the SRS Community Reuse Organization (SRSCRO). Those talks have included ways to form more partnerships with the collaborative and how best to spend dollars for work. In addition to providing the $50 million for design and construction, DOE will also fund the work of the facility annually through appropriations for the Savannah River National Laboratory.