New Barricade to Provide Vital Security at Savannah River Site

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Charleston District is constructing a new entrance barricade at the Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, South Carolina.

The $3.2 million project will replace a more than 20-year-old barricade at the site, which was originally intended to be temporary. It is now the third most utilized entrance to the site. The new permanent barrier will consist of a ballistic-rated guard house, restrooms, inspection canopies, guard booth, and expanded driving lanes with traffic control devices.

The project is scheduled to complete by the end of the year.

“We’re constructing a permanent facility that expands their capabilities by providing more space, increased traffic throughput, and more inspection stations,” said Robert Sorenson, Charleston District International and Interagency Support (IIS) project manager. “All of this greatly improves the security of SRS and the officers manning the site.”

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The SRS is an approximately 310-square- mile site managed by the Department of Energy (DOE) that is spread across Aiken, Barnwell, and Allendale counties.

Established in 1950 by the Atomic Energy Commission, initial construction at SRS began in the early 1950s to support the production of tritium and plutonium for the nation’s defense program, and became a nuclear stockpile facility. Nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship, atomic materials stewardship, and environmental stewardship are currently supported at the site. Focus on these areas has led to continuing missions in tritium reprocessing, defense waste processing, environmental remediation, and waste cleanup efforts.

The Charleston District supports the SRS through an interagency agreement dating back to 1985. The district’s primary responsi- bilities are project management and design/ construction services. One of the areas the district supports at the site is enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear energy and the non-proliferation of nuclear materials.

“The Savannah River Site is unique. Due to their mission, very tight security must be maintained. It is necessary to upgrade these facilities due to the sensitive nature of what is done there,” Sorenson said.

Following a conceptual study, several options were presented for the new barricade. SRS selected the current concept, and the district solicited and awarded a design-build contract. Completion of the design will happen in the coming months, after which demolition of the temporary barricade and construction of the new one will immediate- ly begin.

A strong partnership with DOE is vital to a project like this.

“We worked closely together to understand their needs, and they were involved on a weekly basis in our planning,” said Sorenson.

To construct such an important asset meant understanding their needs completely. Through strong communication with DOE, the Charleston District was able to design a facility that would significantly enhance the security of the site.

“It’s a critical project for Charleston District,” Sorenson said. “It is a small project that’s critical to the mission of SRS, it’s important to show we can deliver on the small projects with the same level of quality as we do on the large project.”

The new barricade will provide the enhanced security needed at the site, something the Charleston District is proud to do.

This article is featured in the 2023-2024 edition of America’s Engineers: The People, Programs, and Projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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