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History of the Savannah River Site
The historial importance of the Savannah River Site is best understood by recalling the war-time urgency the Nation felt in 1949 when the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon. The Nation was shocked, and President Harry Truman chose to respond to a perceived openly aggressive action.
The Savanah River Plant (now SRS) was a major U.S. step in that response. Truman asked the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the Du Pont Company to design, build, and operate a facility to produce nuclear materials (mainly tritium and plutonium) for the "super" (hydrogen) bomb. The first public announcement of the Site was made in November 1950 and ground was broken in Feburary 1951. The first production reactor was taken critical in December 1953. The unprecedented construction project employed up to 38,582 workers in building more than 200 structures on the 300 square-mile Site.
The Site succeeded in meeting the Soviet challenge and made a large contribution to winning the Cold War. Not only did the Site meet every product shipment on time and within quality specification, but did so with an unprecedented safety record and with environmental stewardship that was decades ahead of its time.