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Announcements

January 18, 2019 Stakeholder Update:

Dear SM-1A Stakeholders,

Thank you for signing up to receive periodic updates regarding the ongoing efforts to decommission and dismantle the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant at Fort Greely. 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.

In February, members of the project team will be in Anchorage to present at a panel session for the 2019 Alaska Forum on the Environment.  While our team is in Anchorage, they will be hosting an Industry Day for the contractor community. 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/xEDBM.

We are also excited to share that the project team will again be presenting an SM-1A project update at Fort Greely’s annual Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meeting this April. This year’s meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at the Delta Junction City Hall at 6pm. 

The team’s presentation from last year’s meeting, as well as meeting minutes covering the questions and answers stemming from the presentation, are available online at Fort Greely’s Installation Restoration Program site - http://fgacleanup.info/

As a reminder, the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant on Fort Greely has been deactivated since the early 1970s. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District - a  Regional Radiological Center of Expertise – and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District are working together closely with Army Garrison Alaska to implement the SM-1A decommissioning and dismantlement.

Completed in 1962, the SM-1A nuclear reactor at Fort Greely was based on the concept of the SM-1 reactor at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, a prototype for stationary medium-power plants (“SM”). The “1A” moniker designates it as the first field plant of its type. It was designed to be used as an “in-service” test facility for this type of equipment in an arctic environment with its primary mission being to supply electrical power and heating steam for the utility systems at Fort Greely. The secondary mission was to study the economics of operating a nuclear-type electrical plant compared to conventional oil-fired systems in a remote area where fuel costs are high and supply lines are unusually long.

The initial dismantlement and decommissioning of the SM-1A was completed in 1972 and 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, entombing and sealing certain reactor components (vapor container, waste tanks, and demineralizer room), which holds the Reactor Pressure Vessel and other reactor components and installing appropriate warning signs and monitoring devices.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducts annual environmental monitoring to ensure the site does not pose any hazards to the surrounding installation tenants, the community, or the environment.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the early planning stages working to develop the various planning documents for the final decommissioning and dismantling of the facility. The team anticipates awarding a contract for the decommissioning work as early as 2022, meaning decommissioning work on site likely will not begin until 2022 or 2023 at the earliest.

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-1A. 

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-1A decommissioning and dismantlement.

Additional information on the SM-1A decommissioning and dismantling project is available online at - www.nab.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/SM-1A/ 

And, as always, feel free to e-mail any questions or concerns you may have to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at CENAB-CC@usace.army.mil.

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Other Announcements:

Click here for a broad overview of the contract acquisition approaches for the decommissioning of both the SM-1A (Fort Greely) and SM-1 (Fort Belvoir, Virginia) reactors (Information in presentation is as of March 2018). All inquiries regarding contracting opportunities should be directed to Maj. Trevor Chambers via email to Trevor.L.Chambers@usace.army.mil​.

Click here for the presentation given by the project team at the Fort Greely Restoration Advisory Board meeting on April 25, 2018 that included the reactor history, project status, and next steps.

SM-1A Nuclear Power Plant Overview

The SM-1A Nuclear Power Plant is located in central Alaska, approximately 6 miles south of Delta Junction on the Fort Greely Military Reservation. Fort Greely is approximately 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks and 225 miles northeast of Anchorage.  

The construction of the SM-1A at Fort Greely began in 1958 and was completed in 1962 with first criticality achieved on 13 March 1962. The design was based on the concept of the SM-1 reactor at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, a prototype for stationary medium-power plants (“SM”). The “1A” moniker designates it as the first field plant of its type. 

It was designed to be used as an “inservice” test facility for this type of equipment in an arctic environment with its primary mission being to supply electrical power and heating steam for the utility systems at Fort Greely. The secondary mission was to study the economics of operating a nuclear-type electrical plant compared to conventional oil-fired systems in a remote area where fuel costs are high and supply lines unusually long. The SM-1A was a 20.2 megawatt-thermal (MWt) pressurized water reactor which could supply 72,000 pounds of saturated steam per hour.  The reactor used uranium oxide, highly enriched in U-235 and clad in stainless steel, as fuel.  Due to the high operating costs and the projected cost of replacing the reactor pressure vessel, a decision was made to shut the plant down by 1968. 

This decision was reversed when an annealing process was utilized to extend the vessel’s lifetime. Additionally, it was thought that continued operation would offer opportunities for experience and information about the reliability and lifetime of nuclear plants. By modifying an unused core procured for the portable medium-power PM-2A Nuclear Power Plant (Greenland) and using other spare fuel elements, an additional core was assembled, prolonging the active use of the SM-1A for five more years.

The final shutdown was performed on the SM-1A Reactor in March 1972, in accordance with the SM-1A Decommissioning 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 pre-packaged radioactive waste, entombing certain reactor components (vapor container, waste tanks, and demineralizer room), sealing the pressure vessel, and installing appropriate warning signs and monitoring devices. Certain areas were maintained as restricted areas for radiation safety considerations. 

This method of decommissioning was selected due to the low initial cost and low personnel radiation exposure. Future remediation was to take place at a time when radiation levels and quantities of radioactive waste were significantly reduced due to radioactive decay.

In 1995, Fort Greely was placed on the Base Realignment and Closure list.  As part of the BRAC, certain areas associated with the SM-1A were investigated and remediated.  Three specific areas were released under a Record of Decision, BRAC Site 90, BRAC Site 132, and Wastewater Pipeline Station 21+25.The AHA  process supplies information to 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, preliminary 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-1A reactor to allow for a more accurate decommissioning cost estimate to be developed which addresses projected changes in disposal options.

USACE  developed a management plan for conducting an AHA, 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.  Initial Phase II  efforts were completed in 2015. 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 Maj. Trevor Chambers via email to Trevor.L.Chambers@usace.army.mil​.

Project Documents

This section includes the project documents to date.