The Savannah River Site is a South Carolina facility built in 1950 to produce nuclear defense materials. With over 1,000 facilities, the Savannah River Site is one of North Carolina’s biggest employers.
Studies have been conducted on workers from the Savannah River Site to determine the risks associated with working at the facility. Studies have shown that Savannah River Site workers have a higher chance of dying from pleural cancer, a disease often linked to asbestos exposure. This study also suggests that for 15 years after exposure to radiation at the site, workers have a higher chance of dying from leukemia than if they were not exposed. *This study was supported by the NIOSH Occupational Energy Research Program (OERP).
At the Savannah River Site today, asbestos and radiation exposures are generally lower than they were during the years of operation covered by this study.
Here, we have compiled publicly available information and documentation about the facilities covered by the Act to clarify how their activities relate to the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.
Savannah River Site
State: South Carolina
Time Period: 1950-present
Facility Type: Department of Energy
Facility Description: From 1950 until the late 1980s, the Savannah River Site conducted multiple operations that played a vital role in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. Of greatest importance were the production of plutonium and tritium. Many facilities were built at SRS to support these production efforts and to address their resulting environmental impacts. They include five nuclear reactors, two chemical separation plants (also known as canyons), a nuclear fuel and target fabrication facility, a heavy water plant, and waste management facilities. In addition, SRS is the location of the Savannah River Technology Center and the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. SRS remains a key Department of Energy facility with an important national security mission of maintaining the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and ensuring future production capabilities.
Throughout the course of its operations, the potential for beryllium exposure existed at this site, due to beryllium use, residual contamination, and decontamination activities.
CONTRACTORS: Westinghouse Savannah River Company (1989- present); E. I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company (1950-1989)
During the early 1950s, SRS began to produce materials used in nuclear weapons, primarily tritium and plutonium-239. Five reactors were built to produce nuclear materials. 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 were also built.
Irradiated materials were moved from the reactors to one of the two chemical separations plants. In these facilities, known as “canyons,” the irradiated fuel and target assemblies were chemically processed to separate useful products from waste. After refinement, nuclear materials were shipped to other DOE sites for final application. SRS produced about 36 metric tons of plutonium from 1953 to 1988.
The SRS complex covers 198,344 acres, or 310 square mies, encompassing parts of Aiken, Barnwell and Allendale counties in South Carolina, bordering the Savannah River. Dedicated to maintaining the highest standards, the Savannah River Site (SRS) is a key Department of Energy (DOE) industrial complex responsible for environmental stewardship, environmental cleanup, waste management and disposition of nuclear materials. More specifically, SRS processes and stores nuclear materials in support of national defense and U.S. nuclear nonproliferation efforts. The Site also develops and deploys technologies to improve the environment and treat nuclear and hazardous wastes left from the Cold War. While current missions remain the highest priority, SRS leadership place great importance on developing broader missions for SRS that use its unique capabilities in order to address critical national missions in environmental stewardship, clean energy and national security.
Savannah River Site is listed as a Department of Energy (DOE) site under the EEOICPA.
Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) Classes:
All employees of the Department of Energy, its predecessor agencies, and their contractors and subcontractors who worked at the Savannah River Site from January 1, 1953, through September 30, 1972, for a number of work days aggregating at least 250 work days, occurring either solely under this employment or in combination with work days within the parameters established for one or more other classes of employees included in the Special Exposure Cohort.
Petitions Qualified for Evaluation
Location: Aiken, South Carolina
Job Titles and/or Job Duties: All workers
Period of Employment: January 1, 1950 through December 31, 2007
Location: Aiken, South Carolina
Job Titles and/or Job Duties: All laborers, foremen, and construction workers
Period of Employment: March 9, 1951 through October 24, 1986
NOTE: The two petitions listed above have been merged into one petition.
As of 01/08/2023, the total compensation paid under Parts B and E of the EEOICPA, including medical compensation, for workers suffering from the effects of having worked at the Savannah River Site is $1,913,612,814. Click here for a current accounting of compensation paid to former Workers under the EEOICPA.
Savannah River Site Workers:
If you or your parent worked at this or any other DOE or AWE facility and became ill, you may be entitled to compensation of up to $400K plus medical benefits from the US Department of Labor. Call EEOICPA Counsel Hugh Stephens at 1-855-EEOICPA (336-4272) or fill out the form to the right,whether or not you have already filed a claim and even if your claim has been accepted or denied.
We can help with all OWCP (Federal Workers Compensation) claims, impairments, wage loss and health care. 2495 Main Street, Suite 442 Buffalo, NY.
Further information on the Savannah River Site can be seen below:
The demolition of a cooling tower at SRS can be seen here:
NIOSH SEC Petition Evaluation Reports
Petition 103 (Jan 1, 1950 to Dec 30, 2007)
SEC Petition Evaluation Report Petition SEC-00103 Rev #: 0
Report Submittal Date: 11/14/2008
Office of Compensation Analysis and Support (OCAS) Program Evaluation ReportS(PER):
-Document Number: OCAS-PER-001 – Effective Date: 09/08/2003 – Revision No. 0
Misinterpreted dosimetry records resulting in an underestimate of Page 1 of 4 missed dose in SRS dose reconstructions
-Document Number: OCAS-PER-002 – Effective Date: 12/15/2003 – Revision No. 0
Error in surrogate organ assignment resulting in an underestimateof X-ray dose in SRS dose reconstructions
Technical Basis Documents
Technical Basis Document for the Savannah River Site to be Used for EEOICPA Dose Reconstructions
ORAU Team Dose Reconstruction Project for NIOSH