Potential careers at SRS highlighted for college students

May 31, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Jared Wicker of SRNS explains how different technologies are used to monitor the environment at SRS. (Photo: DOE)

Claflin University students recently toured the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina to learn about the facilities and occupations there.

The one-day event included a driving tour of several facilities supporting a range of missions at SRS and featured a walking tour of the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF). In March 1996, DWPF operations began, using a new vitrification process to convert high-activity radioactive liquid waste stored at SRS into a solid glass form suitable for long-term storage and disposal. It is the only operating radioactive waste glassification plant in the nation.

Les Patten of Savannah River Mission Completion describes a special vehicle used to safely transfer large stainless-steel canisters filled with vitrified, high-activity waste from the production facility to the nearby long-term storage structure. (Photo: DOE)

Focused tour: According to Claflin assistant professor Daniel Koenemann, the students, who are studying environmental management and biology in school, arrived with a natural interest in the site’s nuclear and environmental restoration missions. “It benefits our students to see exactly where they could apply their future degrees and the job opportunities available in those areas,” said Koenemann. “I thought it was a great trip, and I’m happy we came here today.”

Bryan Ortner, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) talent acquisition manager, added that each student is a potential future employee. “We have several ways to populate our employee pipeline with job candidates, including tours, job fairs, and education outreach programs. We proactively reach out with the goal of creating a positive impression of our company and the site,” he said.

Ortner added, “We have a history of partnering with Claflin University to help their students identify and pursue successful careers at SRS. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship I’m confident will continue to grow.”

Jared Wicker, of the SRNS environmental monitoring program, said that the tour was beneficial for all involved. “Participants can see firsthand emerging scientific technologies being developed at SRS and our commitment to protecting the land where the site is located and surrounding areas for our employees and our communities,” he said. “By touring the site, participants can get a sense of the wide scope of environmental health and safety programs that we have due to the complexity of our missions, which is not typical in most industrial settings.”

The institutions: Claflin University, in from Orangeburg, S.C., is a historically black university founded in 1869 and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

SRNS is responsible for the management and operations of SRS.

Claflin University students recently toured the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina to learn about the facilities and occupations there.

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