GREENVILLE - More than a third of the federal money sent to South Carolina to revive the economy has gone to the former Savannah River Site.
The nuclear weapons facility, which sprawls over 300 square miles in Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell counties, has received $1.6 billion in federal stimulus funds - out of a total of $4.2 billion in grants and contracts appropriated to South Carolina, according to an analysis of federal data by The Greenville News.
That analysis shows the state's stimulus award amounts to about $954 for each resident -the third-highest per-capita rate in the nation, behind only the District of Columbia and Alaska. South Carolina has one of the country's highest unemployment rates.
The Savannah River complex, now called Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, has been in operation since the Cold War, when the huge complex was constructed to produce plutonium and tritium for the nation's nuclear arsenal. It is still one of the largest repositories of high-level nuclear waste.
The site employed 11,000 people before the start of the recession. It now employs 13,000, facility operators said.
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions is a Fluor-led team that is in charge of the management and operating contract at the site, which is owned by the federal government's Department of Energy.
Jim Giusti, spokesman for the complex, said the $1.6 billion in federal stimulus money includes $1.4 billion for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions and $200 million for Savannah River Remediation LLC, the liquid waste contractor.
The majority of the money was given to decommission two nuclear reactors and other smaller nuclear facilities and to do environmental cleanup, he said.
The money for the remediation operations was earmarked for infrastructure upgrades to the site's high-level waste system to accelerate closing underground waste-storage tanks, Giusti said.
The Recovery Act money is being used for cleanup work and not for research, he said.
In February, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which President Obama signed into law four days later.
Federal officials said its three main goals are to create and save jobs, spur economic activity, and invest in long-term economic growth.
The $787 billion recovery plan includes federal tax cuts and incentives, an expansion of unemployment benefits, and other spending on social entitlement programs. In addition, federal agencies are using recovery money to award contracts, grants and loans around the country.
Other stimulus appropriations in South Carolina include:
- The Governor's Office, $637.2 million, for grants, awards and other programs
- Health and Human Services, $400.3 million, for medical services, wages and other activities
- Department of Education, $345.5 million for grants to school districts, educational and training services and temporary services
- Employment Security Commission, $307.6 million, including indemnity claims and awards, data processing equipment and employees paid with grant monies
- Department of Transportation, $218.4 million, for highway and road improvements, grants to entities, professional and contractual services and fees and fines
- Department of Commerce, $59.8 million, for grants to planning districts, grants to counties, temporary positions and other functions
- Department of Health and Environmental Control, $59.6 million, for medical and health services, client payments, wages and other programs
- Department of Social Services, $38.4 million, for client payments, other case services for individuals, and legal services.