The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory’s research program reflects its dual role as both an academic outpost of the University of Georgia and a long-term partner in the U.S Department of Energy’s stewardship and management of the Savannah River Site—researching ecological impacts of the site’s operations. The lab’s diverse expertise allows DOE to understand and address site impacts on all levels from physical and chemical contaminant transport processes to effects on biotic communities, human risk, and appropriate ecological indicators for remediation. SREL’s risk assessment capabilities lead to scientifically sound cost-effective management strategies. For example, when erosion began to release low-level radioactive contamination from exposed reservoir sediments, SREL researchers demonstrated that contaminants could be effectively isolated without excavation and reburial—saving DOE approximately $4 billion.
In addition to reseach in support of DOE management goals, SREL’s expertise extends beyond the site to regional, national, and global projects. The lab collaborates with on-site and external organizations. Collaborators include Savannah River National Laboratory, USDA Forest Service, Savannah River Remediation, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Dept. of Defense-Navy, City of Augusta, GA, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, University of California-Davis, National Science Foundation, Institute for Radioeoclogical Protection and Nuclear Safety–France, Polesie State Radiological Reserve–Belarus, National Wildlife Research Center, Joseph E. Jones Ecological Research Center, and the National Fish and Wildlife Service, and many others.