Type of Program: Army Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant Program, MH-1A - Sturgis – James River Reserve Fleet, VA
Project Phase: Decommissioning Studies/Planning
Authorization: AR 50-7 – (customer Headquarters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)
U.S. Army Reactor Program, History: The Department of the Army was authorized to build and operate nuclear reactors under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and created the U.S. Army Reactor Program to support this effort. Under this program, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed, built and operated nuclear reactors in support of several Army missions. Army reactors were used to train military nuclear reactor operators, provide power for military installations, and to provide power in remote areas, such as the Panama Canal and Alaska.
Army Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant Reactor Program, Current Status: The Army is now focused on decommissioning the nuclear power plants within the program, using the Corps of Engineers’ expertise to design and implement the projects at each of the remaining nuclear reactors. The Corps of Engineers Headquarters assigned execution responsibilities for the sites on the east coast to its Baltimore District and to the Alaska District for the Fort Greely Plant.
The deactivated reactors are: the SM-1 at Fort Belvoir, VA; the SM-1A at Fort Greely, AK; and the MH-1A, a reactor mounted on the STURGIS barge, which is moored at the James River National Defense Reserve Fleet near Fort Eustis, VA. The reactor names correspond to (SM) stationary/medium power and (MH) mobile/high power.
The reactors were deactivated in 1972 (SM-1A), 1973 (SM-1) and 1978 (MH-1A). During deactivation, the Army removed the nuclear fuel from the reactors and returned the fuel to the Department of Energy. The Army transported a majority of the readily removable radioactive material off-site to a designated disposal area. Radioactive structural material and primary system components remain and will be part of the upcoming decommissioning efforts.
The Baltimore District is currently pursuing a decommissioning permit for the STURGIS through the Director, United States Army Nuclear and Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction Agency. The decommissioning permit will outline the activities required to ensure protection of human health and the environment during the final decommissioning and dismantlement of the deactivated reactor.
MH-1A - STURGIS
Background: The MH-1A power reactor was last operated on July 1, 1976. In the following two years, the Army removed all special nuclear material and radioactive waste from the facility. Additionally, crews decontaminated all areas outside the secondary shielding and placed the remaining radioactive materials in a safe configuration for long-term storage. The MH-1A STURGIS barge has been moored at the James River Reserve Fleet since Sept. 28, 1978, except for times of periodic dry dock maintenance.
The Baltimore District completed characterization efforts to better quantify the remaining radiological and chemical constituents. This information was used to support costs estimates and request funding to complete decommissioning of the MH-1A and terminate the Army Reactor Permit.
Decommissioning and Disposal - Status and Proposed Action: The district is currently reviewing decommissioning alternatives, preparing National Environmental Policy Act documentation, and writing a Decommissioning Plan to support permit termination. The proposed action is to award a decommissioning, dismantling and disposal contract to a U.S. company that is capable of dismantling a vessel with a nuclear reactor onboard.
The contracted company would then tow the vessel to a facility at one of the alternative locations for decommissioning and dismantling. After the contractor removes the residual radioactive materials, the remaining portions of the STURGIS barge will be disposed of or recycled as scrap using standard ship breaking methods. Wastes will be segregated in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations.
Currently there are four alternative locations being considered for the project. Specifically, each location would be at a commercial facility in that local area that has the capability of supporting a vessel the size of the STURGIS and would not require the construction of any new facilities.
1) Hampton Roads Metropolitan Area, VA
2) Baltimore, MD
3) Charleston, SC
4) Galveston, TX
The decommissioning planning is nearly completed, and the contract is slated for award in spring 2014. The implementation phase is anticipated to take four years after the contract award.
For more information, please contact Hans Honerlah at (410) 962- 9184, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.