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US Secretary of Energy tours Savannah River Site; talks updating nation's nuclear fleet, community support and future of site

SAVNNAH RIVER SITE, S.C. (WJBF) - President Donald Trump is committed to updating the nation's nuclear deterrent to the world and one of the proposed locations to expand the operations is in the CSRA.

Over the course of two days United States Secretary of Energy Rick Perry toured Savannah River Site to get a better understanding of the operation happening there. He finally ended his visit by meeting with employees at the site.

Perry's visit comes at a critical time for South Carolina. Local lawmakers are hopeful SRS will be at the forefront of President Trump's push to modernize the country's nuclear fleet.

"To provide for peace through strength and it begins with the pit production," South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

At a town hall with Savannah River Sites employees, Perry addressed the ongoing discussions to expand the plutonium pit production, from New Mexico, to the CSRA.

"For a country to be able to have that nuclear deterrent it's incredibly important, in a very dangerous world." Perry said.

Plutonium pits, or triggers, are at the core of nuclear weapons aiding in the detonation. Triggers haven't been produced since 2011.

However, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an agency of the Department of Energy, wants to produce the pits again and in mass quantities.

"Going from 30 to 80 pits and where that gets done and what have you." Perry said. "I know there is conversations of it occurring here."

Perry praised employees and says the work they are doing at the site is important.

The Secretary of Energy also acknowledge the community's unwavering support for SRS, which he says hasn't been the case at other DOE labs in the country.

"There is so many things this site can do to help this country on the national security front." South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said. "Our nuclear inventory and arsenal has been depleted and we are going to rebuild it. We stand ready to help you Rick."

"We have tremendous intellectual capital in this community and I've said this, we have the opportunity to be the silicon valley of the East coast." Georgia Representative Rick Allen said.

Perry says there future is bright for the National Laboratory and says that there is talk about expanding the missions at SRS.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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