| October 1952|
Operations began at the Savannah River Plant (SRP) in Aiken, South Carolina with the start up of a heavy water plant. The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) built SRP to produce materials, such as tritium and plutonium, for nuclear and thermonuclear (hydrogen) weapons. Tritium is a radioactive isotope, or form, of hydrogen used in thermonuclear weapons.
The AEC chose the 200,000-acre site along the Savannah River in western South Carolina primarily for the millions of gallons of water available for cooling the production reactors. The AEC bought land from and relocated approximately 6,000 residents in six surrounding communities.