Corps of Engineers awards contract to decommission, dismantle deactivated nuclear power plant at Fort Greely

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District
Published July 27, 2022
Updated: July 27, 2022

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, has awarded a $103 million contract to Westinghouse Government Services of South Carolina for the decommissioning, dismantling and disposal of the deactivated SM-1A nuclear power plant at Fort Greely, Alaska.

“The Corps of Engineers has worked diligently to award the contract for this very complex and challenging project,” said Baltimore District Commander Col. Estee Pinchasin. “Our radiological experts have safely executed projects like this in the past, and our team of trained professionals will use proven techniques, precautions and engineering controls to prioritize and ensure the continued safety of our workers, installation community and public."

Crews are expected to begin mobilizing in next year, and the work is anticipated to take approximately six years to complete.

Located approximately 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks and 225 miles northeast of Anchorage - Stationary, Medium Power Model 1A Nuclear Power Plant (SM-1A) - SM-1A’s primary mission was to supply electrical power and heating steam for on-post buildings and facilities at Fort Greely. It was also used as an in-service test facility to understand how the equipment would function in an arctic environment. The secondary mission was to study the economics of operating a nuclear electric power plant as compared to a conventional oil-fired system in a remote setting where fuel costs are high and refueling logistics challenging.

SM-1A was a single-loop, 20.2 megawatt-thermal pressurized water reactor that used highly enriched uranium dioxide fuel to generate 2,000 kilowatts of electrical power and 37,850 pounds of extraction steam per hour. Construction began in 1958 and was completed in 1962. The “1A” moniker designates it as the first field plant of its type. The final shutdown, which included deactivation and initial decommissioning of the SM-1A reactor, was performed in March 1972, when the facility was effectively placed into SAFSTOR (safe storage). Much of the reactor’s primary system components were dismantled, and components inside the vapor container were encased in concrete and a grout-sand-soil mixture. Waste generated during the initial deactivation activities was placed in the spent fuel pit and waste tanks pit. These pits were then filled and capped with reinforced concrete.

Baltimore District, is home to the USACE, North Atlantic Division’s Regional Radiological Health Physics Regional (RHPR) Center of Expertise, which has successfully completed similar Army Reactor decommissioning projects and is leading the decommissioning on Army reactors.

“Our team of experts has a combined total of over 60 years of experience in radiological project support and management,” said Dave Watters, chief of the RHPR Center of Expertise. “We have demonstrated our experience at a variety of sites throughout the United States and internationally; our team can provide all types of radiological services to our various stakeholders.”

Decommissioning includes the removal of all reactor components; transportation and disposal of material; site cleanup; and restoration. The USACE team works hand in hand with the decommissioning contractor to ensure all aspects of the project are done with safety as the top priority

For more information, please visit the SM-1A project webpage.    

Cynthia Mitchell
443-240-5019 (cell)

Release no. 22-016