Announcements

January 10, 2019 Stakeholder Update

Dear SM-1 Stakeholders,

Thank you for signing up to receive periodic updates regarding the ongoing efforts to decommission and dismantle the deactivated SM-1 former nuclear power plant at Fort Belvoir. This is the first of what will be several stakeholder updates that we’ll be sending over the course of this project.

We are still in the early planning stages of this project, but as part of our commitment to open and transparent communication, we will be sending stakeholder updates as we reach major project milestones and especially when there are opportunities for stakeholders to interact with the project team and provide feedback.

Our first opportunity for stakeholders to meet with team members, ask questions and provide direct feedback will be later this month. We’ll be hosting information sessions both on- and off-post and look forward to hearing from the community. 

The project team will be on-post at Thurman Hall (Building 247) during the afternoon and evening of January 28 to discuss the project, get feedback and answer questions from interested members of the Fort Belvoir community who work and live on post. The afternoon session will consist of an open house period with information posters where the public can meet and interact with USACE and Fort Belvoir personnel working on the project from 1pm to 3pm, with a formal presentation scheduled to be given at 2pm followed by questions and answers. The evening session will begin with another open house session from 6:30pm to 7:30pm, which will be followed by a formal presentation about the SM-1’s history and ongoing decommissioning planning and a subsequent question and answer session and additional poster availability from 7:30pm to 8:30pm.

The following evening, January 29, the project team will be hosting a similar information session off-post at Fairfax County’s South County Government Center (8350 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria) for anyone on- or off-post interested in providing feedback and learning more about the project. The session will consist of an open house period with information posters where the public can meet and interact with USACE and Fort Belvoir personnel working on the project from 6:30pm to 7:30pm, which will be followed by a formal presentation about the SM-1’s history and ongoing decommissioning planning and a subsequent question and answer session and additional poster availability from 7:30pm to 8:30pm.

Our team wants to understand any concerns the community may have as we move forward with our planning, and also provide vital project information, as well.

The SM-1 project team is also committed to a fair, open and transparent contracting process. As part of that commitment, we are hosting an Industry Day on February 8, also at Fairfax County’s South County Government Center. Contractors interested in more information regarding this Industry Day, including instructions on how to RSVP, can see the full official notice on FedBizOpps.gov at https://go.usa.gov/xEbrQ.

As a reminder, the deactivated SM-1 former nuclear power plant on Fort Belvoir has been deactivated since the early 1970s. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District is a Regional Radiological Center of Expertise and has been designated to carry the SM-1 decommissioning and dismantlement.

Completed in 1957, the SM-1 nuclear reactor at Fort Belvoir was the first nuclear power facility in the United States to be connected to a public utility grid. Over several years, it provided power primarily to Fort Belvoir and served as a training facility for nuclear technicians from all military branches before being deactivated and partially decommissioned in the early 1970s. 

The initial dismantlement and decommissioning involved the removal of a majority of the radioactivity from the site, including the removal of the nuclear fuel and control rods, decontamination work around the facility, radioactive waste removal, and the sealing of the Reactor Containment Vessel which holds the Reactor Pressure Vessel and other reactor components.

USACE is working to develop and finalize the various planning documents for the final decommissioning and dismantling of the facility. 

We want to take this opportunity to emphasize that safety is the team’s number one priority for this project. The safety and health of the installation, the local community and our workers are paramount to the success of our project. We will be using proven controls and precautions to address safety and other engineering details during all stages of the decommissioning of the SM-1. 

Just recently, the Baltimore District’s expert team safely completed the decommissioning of another one of the Army’s deactivated nuclear reactors – the MH-1A on the STURGIS barge in Galveston, Texas. We are excited to build on that record of success and safety as planning moves forward for the SM-1 decommissioning and dismantlement.

As the team continues through the planning phase, we have begun initial market research to assess what companies may be able to implement this large, unique and complex project. This is just the first of many steps our team will be taking to ensure a fair, open and transparent contracting process. We anticipate issuing a draft request for proposals for a decommissioning contract in the first half of calendar year 2019 to solicit industry feedback with a formal RFP later in the year and an anticipated contract award date around the middle of calendar year 2020.

You can read more about the project and the SM-1’s unique history in this feature online that is also in the current edition of Fort Belvoir’s garrison newspaper, the Belvoir Eagle - http://www.belvoireagleonline.com/.

We have also recently launched a web site for the SM-1 project where additional information is available - www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/SM-1/ 

And, as always, feel free to e-mail any questions or concerns you may have to Baltimore District’s Corporate Communication Office at CENAB-CC@usace.army.mil.

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Other Announcements:

The Decommissioning Planning is underway for the SM-1 Reactor at Fort Belvoir. The project team is working with our planning contractor and will be working with the external stakeholders and interested parties as we proceed with our planning efforts. Additionally, the project team has started the contract acquisition process for the next phase of work - which would be the actual Decommissioning Implementation. 

Click here for a broad overview of the contract acquisition approaches for the decommissioning of both the SM-1 (Fort Belvoir) and SM-1A (Fort Greely, Alaska) reactors (Information in presentation is as of March 2018). All inquiries regarding contracting opportunities should be directed to James Greer via email to James.A.Greer@usace.army.mil.  Additional updates will be posted as the project progresses.  

The next major step for the SM-1 decommissioning will be consultation with stakeholders, including the public and the Fort Belvoir community, for the Environmental Assessment Report. 

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.

Contact Information

To sign up to receive email updates, please call or email us:  

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

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

Please direct any inquiries regarding contracting opportunities to James Greer via email to James.A.Greer@usace.army.mil.

Project Documents

This section includes the project documents to date.