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History of the Savannah River Site
To best understand the historical significance of the Savannah River Site (SRS), recall the war-time urgency the Nation felt in 1949 when the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon. Shock swept the Nation and President Harry Truman chose to respond to the perceived openly aggressive action.
In 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. Thus the Savannah River Plant (now SRS) was born. November 1950 marks the first public announcement, and ground broke in February 1951. The first production reactor went critical in December 1953. The unprecedented construction project employed up to 38,582 workers in building more than 200 structures on the 310 square-mile Site.
The Site succeeded in meeting the Soviet challenge and largely contributed to Cold War victory. Not only did the Site meet every product shipment on time and within quality specification, but did so with an unprecedented safety record and environmental stewardship decades ahead of its time.