US Army Corps of Engineers
Baltimore District Website

SM-1: June 2, 2021 Stakeholder Update

Dear SM-1 Stakeholders,

The SM-1 Project Team continues work on the SM-1 Decommissioning and Dismantlement project with APTIM AECOM Decommissioning, LLC (A2D) Joint Venture (JV) of Alexandria, VA. 

Since the last update in February, our team has begun the engineering and work planning, permitting, collaborating with Fort Belvoir staff, and setting up a site office to help to facilitate the project implementation.

This summer, the team is planning some initial pre-site work to include entry into the Vapor Containment structure and site surveys to prepare for the upcoming field mobilization.  We plan to conduct additional community outreach efforts and town hall meetings in late summer to discuss the implementation of the work. We anticipate crews mobilizing on/at the site at Fort Belvoir in late fall 2021. The remainder of 2021 and majority of 2022 will focus on site preparation, and the early stages of decommissioning will begin in 2022 and continue for two to three years. From there, the work will focus on site restoration and final documentation, with an estimated project completion in 2025.

As a reminder, the decommissioning contract includes all aspects of the project, including the removal of all reactor components; transportation and disposal of material; site cleanup; and restoration. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers team will work hand in hand with the decommissioning contractor to ensure all aspects of the project are done with safety as the top priority. The USACE team overseeing the SM-1 decommissioning has a proven track record of safely carrying out a broad array of radiological projects around the world. This includes the complete decommissioning of one of SM-1’s sister reactors - the Army’s deactivated Mh-1A nuclear reactor onboard the STURGIS vessel, which was the world’s first floating nuclear power plant.

Thank you all again for choosing to be a part of this process with us as we move into the next phase of the decommissioning and dismantling of the deactivated SM-1. More project information is always available on our project website. As a reminder, the team has limited abilities to host site visits, so we have prepared a virtual tour of the site to allow everyone to see the site firsthand. The video is available for viewing on the Baltimore District YouTube Channel.

If you have any questions, feedback or information you’d like to share with us, please feel free to e-mail me or reach out to our Corporate Communications Office.

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Click here for an archive of previous stakeholder updates

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SM-1 Former Nuclear Power Plant Overview

The SM-1 Former Nuclear Power Plant is located on the western shore of the Potomac River within the boundaries of Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County, Virginia. It is approximately 17 miles south by southwest from the center of Washington D.C.

The construction of the SM-1 at Fort Belvoir was completed in 1957, and it achieved its first criticality in April 1957. The SM-1 was a single-loop 10 megawatt-thermal (MWt) pressurized water reactor delivering a net 1,750 kilowatts of electrical power. It was the first nuclear power reactor to provide electricity to a commercial power grid in the United States. The SM-1 Reactor operated from April 1957 to March 1973. Fort Belvoir was home to the U.S. Army Engineer Reactors Group (USAERG), and the SM-1 was used for training the multi-service crews that would operate the various plants in the program. The reactor was stationary with a medium power range, which was between 1,000 and 10,000 kilowatt-electric (kWe).

Deactivation was performed on the SM-1 Reactor from 1973-1974, in accordance with the SM-1 Decommissioning and Conversion Plan as approved by the Army Reactor Systems Health and Safety Review Committee (ARCHS). This consisted of removal of the nuclear fuel, minor decontamination, shipment of necessary radioactive waste, sealing the pressure vessel, and installing appropriate warning signs and monitoring devices.

After the completion of the facility deactivation and conversion, a third party radiological survey by the U.S. Army Environmental Hygiene Agency verified that known areas of radioactive contamination had been decontaminated to acceptable levels or were properly controlled. The ARCHS approved the SM-1 Post-Decommissioning Environmental Monitoring Plan, which has been used to provide on-going surveillance of the decommissioned facility.

In October 1996, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (USACHPPM) took extensive surveys of the SM-1 and surrounding environment to determine the radiological status of the facility at that time. In 2005, a Historical Site Assessment was developed using operational records and data collected from the 1996 USACHPPM Surveys. In 2009/2010 Characterization Surveys were completed and the Report was finalized in 2013.

The Historical Site Assessment and Characterization Surveys support the decommissioning study process outlined in Army Regulation 50-7. This process is performed by USACE, at the direction of the Army Reactor Office, to better define disposal activity costs.

The decommissioning strategy that was developed in the 1970's recommended that the deactivated reactors be placed into a safe storage mode that would allow the shorter-lived radionuclides to decay. It was expected that delaying decommissioning would reduce radioactive waste volumes and worker exposures. However, subsequent studies indicated that the levels of contamination present within the reactors would not be reduced by decay sufficiently to allow for release of the facilities without significant decontamination being performed. Additionally, concern regarding the increasing cost and decreasing availability of radioactive waste disposal led the Army Reactor Office (ARO) to recommend that an assessment be performed of the SM-1 reactor. The assessment allowed for a more accurate decommissioning cost estimate, which addresses projected changes in disposal options.

USACE developed a management plan for conducting an All Hazards Assessment, which contained provisions for four phases of work to be performed. Phase I included a Historical Records Review and Disposal Alternatives Investigation. Phase II, included performing a characterization survey and decommissioning cost estimate. Phases III and IV deal with decommissioning planning, design, and execution.

SM-1 Walk-Through

Contact Information

To join our stakeholder list and receive email updates, please call or email us:  

Phone: 410-962-2809
E-mail: cenab-cc@usace.army.mil

MAILING ADDRESS:
USACE SM-1 Field Office
10236 Burbeck Road
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060

Or if you have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. 

Please direct any inquiries regarding contracting opportunities to Brian Richardson via email to Brian.L.Richardson@usace.army.mil.

Announcements

SM-1 Decommissioning Contract Awarded

August 2020 Update: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, has awarded a $67.98 million contract to joint venture APTIM AECOM Decommissioning LLC of Alexandria for the decommissioning, dismantling and disposal of the deactivated SM-1 nuclear power plant. Full news release available here.

SM-1 was a 2-megawatt nuclear reactor developed by the United States Atomic Energy Commission for the US Army Nuclear Power Program (ANPP) in the mid-1950s.
Undated - Technicians set the core structure for the Army Package Power Reactor. At this stage, the reactor plant was 96 percent complete.(Photo courtesy of the Office of History)
A Soldier reads an informational handout about the ongoing planning for the final decommissioning and dismantling of the Deactivated SM-1 Nuclear Power Plant at Fort Belvoir during the Army Aviation Brigade's Safety Stand Down at Davison Army Airfield Thursday May 23, 2019. The SM-1 project team participated in the event as part of ongoing outreach efforts to inform members of the Fort Belvoir community about the SM-1 project, help create an understanding of the nature of the project and address potential concerns. More information about the SM-1 project is available online at www.nab.usace.army.mil/SM-1
Undated - Appears to be construction and installation of reactor at SM-1. (Photo courtesy of the Office of History)
Retired Lt. Gen. Ernest Graves and his wife Nancy Graves discuss his past experiences with the military’s application of nuclear power, including his role in the completion and initial operation of the first-of-its-kind SM-1 nuclear reactor at Fort Belvoir, with personnel from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the US Army Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Agency headquarters on Fort Belvoir, Tuesday September 19, 2017. In addition to providing nuclear and countering weapons of mass destruction expertise, USANCA is home to the Army Reactor Office, which issues the permits for the Army’s one operating and three deactivated nuclear reactors.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Manager Brenda Barber and Radiological Health Physicist Hans Honerlah speak with a civilian attendee at the U.S. Army Aviation Brigade's Safety Stand Down at Davison Army Airfield about the ongoing planning for the final decommissioning and dismantling of the Deactivated SM-1 Nuclear Power Plant at Fort Belvoir Thursday May 23, 2019. The SM-1 project team participated in the event as part of ongoing outreach efforts to inform members of the Fort Belvoir community about the SM-1 project, help create an understanding of the nature of the project and address potential concerns. More information about the SM-1 project is available online at www.nab.usace.army.mil/SM-1
Retired Lt. Gen. Ernest Graves sits at the control panel of the deactivated SM-1 nuclear reactor and power plant at Fort Belvoir during a site visit Tuesday September 19, 2017. As a major with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Graves oversaw the completion of the construction of the facility and its initial operation in the late 1950s. While SM-1’s reactor was deactivated in 1973 and placed into safe storage, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of planning for the reactor’s final decommissioning and dismantlement for the facility. Bringing Graves to the facility served two main purposes:  allowing the team to gather as much information as possible about the construction of the facility; and providing historical context and additional history of SM-1’s operation.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Radiological Health Physicist Hans Honerlah speaks with Soldiers at the U.S. Army Aviation Brigade's Safety Stand Down at Davison Army Airfield about the ongoing planning for the final decommissioning and dismantling of the Deactivated SM-1 Nuclear Power Plant at Fort Belvoir Thursday May 23, 2019. The SM-1 project team participated in the event as part of ongoing outreach efforts to inform members of the Fort Belvoir community about the SM-1 project, help create an understanding of the nature of the project and address potential concerns. More information about the SM-1 project is available online at www.nab.usace.army.mil/SM-1