224 Laurens St SW
SRS Heritage Foundation
The SRS Heritage Foundation, Inc. was established to preserve and interpret to the public the role of the Savannah River Site (SRS) in winning the Cold War. It focuses on technical and scientific achievements, sociological impacts, and ecological accomplishments. Activities include fundraising, oversight of the Heritage Center & Museum, and education and outreach programs.
Please visit the SRS Museum and Heritage Fooundation Facebook page or the Museum's Aiken website for contact information, events, and hours.
A link is provided here to an August 12, 2005 article from The Augusta Chronicle reporting on the public meeting that formally launched the Foundation. (Free website registration may be required.)
HERITAGE FOUNDATION VISION
The Heritage Foundation seeks to tell the historic story of SRS activities, through the preservation of artifacts and the establishment of education and outreach programs. Three major initiatives are proposed:
Heritage Center -- This center will be located at the SRS site, and will focus on technical, ecological, and societal impacts of SRS. It will feature exhibits, classrooms, conference room, library, archives/storage, and exhibit preparation areas. The Heritage Center is proposed for current Building 742-A, near the site boundary of SRS. It would begin operations in late 2008.
Ellenton Town Site -- This former farming community, population 739, was one of six small towns absorbed by the construction of the SRS. Residents were relocated after the Federal Government assumed the site in November 1950. The Foundation plans to clear the site to exposed foundations, streets, and sidewalks; and to provide signs to interpret the lives of the residents. Ellenton Interpretation is scheduled to commence in late 2006.
Historic C-Reactor Area -- Public tours are proposed for the restored 1955-era historic area, including the reactor building. Guided tours are planned beginning in 2009, with public access to C Area planned for 2011.
Event: 2009 SRS Heritage Day, October 10 -- The SRS Heritage Foundation presented Heritage Day 2009, in cooperation with the Atomic City Festival in New Ellenton SC. The primary focus of Heritage Day was to encourage "historical people" to share their stories and artifacts, and facilities were available to record oral histories and to photograph items and scan documents. Entertainment was provided as part of the Heritage program and the Atomic City Festival. Click on the link below to see the program and photos.
2009 Heritage Day Web Page
Event: Premiere of Displaced: The Unexpected Fallout from the Cold War - 20 March 2009 -- Scrapbook Video Productions will present the premiere of a 90-minute film describing the first recorded memories of the residents of Ellenton, Dunbarton, and surrounding towns, where the inhabitants were displaced during the withdrawal of the land that formed the boundaries of the Savannah River Project (now Savannah River Site).
In this new and thought-provoking documentary, residents of the South Carolina farming towns of Ellenton, Dunbarton, and Meyers Mill tell their personal stories of family and community life during the 1940s and early '50s and its shocking disruption by the government confiscation of their towns to make room for one of the largest nuclear weapon production facilities in the world. In Displaced, they recall the fear, anger, and dismay of the 5,000 residents forced to abandon homes and land many had known for generations. Click on the links below to see the program poster or to visit the production's website.
Video Premiere Poster
HERITAGE FOUNDATION NEWSLETTERS
One of the Foundation's primary communication methods is its newsletter.
Recent issues are linked below in PDF format. The file will either open within your browser (usually), or will be downloaded to your computer disk, depending on how your computer is configured. To return to this page, use your browser's "back" button.
SRS HERITAGE INTERNET RESOURCES
The Deparment of Energy (DOE) established a web site to provide background, references, and the latest documents related to the SRS Cold War history. A link to the central website is given at the bottom of this page.
The Foundation's own website is under development, with new material posted periodically. Eventually, much of the content posted in this section of the CNTA website will migrate to the SRS Heritage Foundation website.
The historical importance of the site is best understood by recalling the war-time urgency that 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 Savannah River Plant (now SRS) was the 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 February 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 buildings on the 300-square-mile Site.
The Site succeeded in meeting the challenge, and the way it did that is historically significant. Not only did the Site meet every product shipment, on time and within quality specifications, but did it with an unprecedented safety record and with environmental stewardship that was decades ahead of its time. In 1972, SRS was was designated as the first National Environmental Research Park (NERP) by the AEC.
On January 26, 2005, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued the Savannah River Site's Cold War Built Environment: Cultural Resources Management Plan. Prior to the involvement of the SRS Heritage Foundation, the following activities proceeded:
In 1997, DOE funded a multi-year History Project to develop a narrative on SRS's technical history in preparation for SRS's fiftieth anniversary. In addition to the narrative, SR contracted for surveying significant Cold War resources that had reached or would reach 50 years of age by year 2000. This was expanded to an inventory of Cold War resources constructed between 1950 and 1989 to help fulfill DOE's Sections 110 and 106 responsibilities under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).
Between 1998 and 1999, the inventory of the Site's Cold War era resources was conducted and SRS: Cold War Context and Resource Study provided an evaluative framework for the SRS's Cold War historic properties under the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) criteria. The document recommended that 220 properties and the Site's layout comprised a National Register-eligible Cold War Historic District that possesses national, state, and local significance. The NRHP boundary coincides with the Site's perimeter.
The inventory and context were completed in 1999 and accepted by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in 2003. Given the Site's ongoing missions, the SR and the NNSA-SRSO recognize that site operations may impact Cold War NRHP-eligible properties over the next decade and that a plan is needed to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse affects to these properties. As a result, DOE chose to develop a Programmatic Agreement (PA), in consultation with the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (the Council or ACHP), the SRS Citizens Advisory Board (SRS CAB), the Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness (CNTA), and the cities of Aiken, Augusta, and New Ellenton, for the preservation, management, and treatment of the NRHP-eligible historic properties within the SRS Cold War Historic District.
These agreements led to the initial sponsorship of the SRS Heritage Foundation by CNTA and its current incorporation as a tax-exempt organization. The group was granted Consulting Party status under the provisions of the NHPA, together with the SRS Citizens Advisory Board and the City of Augusta. Establishing the Foundation depended on the strong initial leadership of Walt Joseph and support from Todd Crawford.
In 2004, Lord-Aeck-Sargent, nationally recognized preservation architects, performed an evaluation of the SRS environment and opportunities for preservation and acquisition of artifacts.
The January 2005 PRMP provides considerable detail on the opportunities and challenges for SRS historic preservation. Volume One is posted through links to PDF files, at the bottom of this web page, together with the FY2005 Annual Report that was transmitted by DOE in November 2005. This link also provides the text of the May 2004 Programmatic Agreement among DOE, SHPO, and ACHP.
Artifact collection at the Site continues to be a major emphasis. Most of the historic artifacts from Building 777-10A have been saved, including the entire Control Room and tank for the Process Development Pile (PDP), a full-size mockup of the SRS production reactors. This reactor operated from 1953 through the late 1970s, at low power levels (50 to 500 watts) and less than 1% innage.
The Foundation is preserving equipment from a decontamination facility in the former Medical Building. The unique equipment exemplifies not only the detailed planning for dealing with nuclear hazards, but also the exemplary safety performance that never required the use of the facility.
One unexpected treasure recovered during artifact collection efforts is the original 1950 map used by the team evaluating potential sites for the plant. The map is approximately 9 x 14 feet, and covers the eastern part of the U.S. More than 100 potential sites are plotted; many with handwritten notes by the Du Pont Company and Atomic Energy Commission team members.
Artifacts are being stored temporarily in the Assembly Area adjacent to the former C Reactor. Although this space is not ideal for the curation of artifacts, it provides a safe, secure environment for interim storage. DOE and Washington Savannah River Company (WSRC) are working to establish a facility with temperature and climate control.
This page posts down-loadable sections of the 2005 Savannah River Site's Cold War Built Environment: Cultural Resources Management Plan, Volume One and the FY2005 Annual Report.
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