SRS History Highlights
The Savannah River Site was constructed during the early 1950s to produce the
basic materials used in the fabrication of nuclear weapons,
primarily tritium and plutonium-239, in support of our nation's
defense programs. Five reactors were built to produce these materials. Also built were a number of support facilities including two chemical separations plants, a heavy water extraction plant, a nuclear fuel and target fabrication facility, a tritium extraction facility and waste management facilities.
If you wish to view an in-depth history (1950-2000),
please explore SRS at Fifty,
our 50th anniversary book.
Browse by Era: 1950s • 1960s • 1970s • 1980s • 1990s • 2000s • 2010s
•President Truman sends a formal letter to DuPont, specifically requesting their expertise for the design and construction of a new atomic project.
• Decision made to build nuclear facility in South Carolina, later to be called the "Savannah River Plant" (SRP).
• Savannah River Ecology Laboratory begins ecological studies of SRP plants and animals.
• Construction began at the Plant.
• Production of heavy water for site reactors begins in Heavy Water Rework Facility.
• R Reactor, the first production reactor, goes critical.
• P Reactor, L Reactor, K Reactor go critical.
• The first irradiated fuel is discharged.
• F-Canyon, a chemical separation facility, begins radioactive operations.
• C Reactor goes critical.
• The first plutonium shipment leaves the Site.
• H Canyon, a chemical separation facility, begins radioactive operations.
• Permanent tritium facilities operational and first shipment of tritium to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).
• Construction of the basic plant is complete.
• Neutrino confirmed at P Reactor.
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• Heavy Water Components Test Reactor (HWCTR) goes into operations testing the heavy water system for use with civilian power reactors.
• Receiving Basin for Off-Site Fuels receives first shipment of off-site spent nuclear fuel.
• Curium 244 produced as a heat source for space exploration. This was the first full scale conversion of an SRP reactor load to nonweapons materials.
• R-Reactor and HWCTR are shut down.
• Californium-252, the heaviest isotope produced at SRP, is separated as a
byproduct of the curium program.
• L Reactor shut down for upgrades.
• Californium-252 is made in a separate production program
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• K-Reactor becomes the first production reactor automatically controlled by computer.
• SRP is designated as the first National Environmental Research Park.
• Plutonium Fuel Fabrication (PUFF) Facility Startup.
• Savannah River Archaeological Program (SRARP) established onsite to perform data analysis of prehistoric and historic sites on SRP land.
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• SRP begins environmental cleanup program.
• M-Area Settling Basin cleanup begins under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
• Heavy Water Rework Facility closed.
• Ground is broken for construction of the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF).
• Wackenhut Services Incorporated (WSI) begins providing security support services at SRP.
• HB-Line begins producing plutonium-238 for NASA's deep-space exploration program.
• L-Reactor restarted and C-Reactor shut down.
• A full-scale groundwater remediation system constructed in M-Area.
• Construction of Saltstone begins.
• Construction of the Replacement Tritium Facility begins.
• DuPont notifies DOE that it will not continue to operate and manage SRP.
• Effluent Treatment Project (ETP) construction begins
• K, L and P Reactors were shut down.
• Effluent Treatment Facility begins operations to treat low-level radioactive wastewater from F and H Area Separations facilities.
• SRP is officially included on the National Priority List and becomes regulated by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
• Westinghouse Savannah River Company assumes management and operation of SRP facilities.
• Name of the Site changed from Savannah River Plant (SRP) to Savannah River Site (SRS).
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• Construction of a cooling tower for K-Reactor begins.
• Saltstone operations begin.
• Mixed Waste Management Facility: first SRS facility closed and certified under the provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
• L-Reactor shut down.
• M-Area Settling Basin closure completed.
• The Cold War ends and production of nuclear materials for weapons at SRS stops
• K-Reactor operated briefly for last time and connected to cooling tower.
• Secretary of Energy announces phase out of all uranium processing.
• Non-radioactive operations begin at the Replacement Tritium Facility.
• K-Reactor placed in cold-standby condition as Nation's tritium source.
• Non-radioactive test runs of the Defense Waste Processing Facility begin.
• Construction begins on Consolidated Incineration Facility.
• Tritium introduced into the Replacement Tritium Facility and radioactive operations begins.
• Workforce Transition and Community Assistance begins at SRS.
• SRS Citizens Advisory Board was established.
• Replacement Tritium Facility startup.
• The Defense Waste Processing Facility introduces radioactive material into the vitrification process.
• K-Reactor placed in shutdown condition.
• F-Canyon restarts and begins stabilizing nuclear materials at SRS.
• First high-level radioactive waste tanks closed (#17 & #20).
• Cold War Historic Preservation Program begins
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• SRS celebrates 50th anniversary
• K-Reactor building converted to K Area Materials Storage Facility.
• Record of Decision announced, selecting SRS as the site of new plutonium missions:
- MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility
- Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility
- Plutonium Immobilization Facility
• F Canyon and FB Line facilities completed their last production run to process legacy materials.
• Last depleted uranium metal shipped to Envirocare of Utah.
• Receiving Basin for Offsite Fuels prepares for closure.
• Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) construction begins.
• SRS' Savannah River Technology Center (SRTC) designated as a national laboratory, Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL).
• Blended low-enriched uranium from SRS used by Tennessee Valley Authority reactor to generate electricity.
• Tritium Facilities Modernization & Consolidation Project completed start-up.
• SRNL designated as the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management’s "Corporate Laboratory."
• Aiken County’s new Center for Hydrogen Research opened its doors.
• F-Area deactivation work complete.
• T-Area closure complete.
• Tritium Extraction Facility (TEF) opens.
• MOX Facility construction begins.
• Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) awarded contract for Maintenance & Operation of SRS.
• Savannah River Remediation (SRR) awarded contract for the Liquid Waste Operations of SRS.
• Historical markers were placed in P and R Areas commemorating the role both reactors played towards winning the Cold War.
• Construction on the Waste Solidification Building (WSB) begins.
• SRS began The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) project representing a $1.6 billion investment in SRS. This project, expected to run through fiscal year 2011, will result in the accelerated cleanup of nuclear waste at SRS and a significant reduction in the site footprint. In 2009 alone, more than 1,500 new workers were hired and over 800 jobs retained, thanks to ARRA funding.
• SRS construction employees reached 23 million hours (11 consecutive years) without a lost time injury case.
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• M Area closure complete
• P&R Areas closure complete
• The Site adopts Enterprise SRS (E-SRS) vision and business strategies for securing future new missions .