US Army Corps of Engineers
Baltimore District Website

Stakeholder Update: June 2, 2021

Dear SM-1A Stakeholders,

Our Team is continuing make progress on the decommissioning planning efforts. The Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact should be published by the end of June.  The final documents incorporate comments received during the public comment period. Your feedback, along with comments from Alaska state agencies and the U.S. Environmental PA have been reviewed and incorporated into the Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact. 

Additionally, USACE, the Alaska State Historic Preservation Office and Consulting Parties are working to finalize a National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 Memorandum of Agreement for SM-1A that outlines how the history of SM-1A and its unique artic mission will be preserved. This agreement is a joint effort between USACE, the Alaska State Historic Preservation Office, and US Army Garrison Alaska Fort Greely, plus consulting parties which include the City of Delta Junction and Nuke Digest. The Memorandum of Agreement is expected to be completed in June 2021. It will be included as an appendix to the Final Environmental Assessment. 

Other key components of the project are moving forward, as well. The project team has started the procurement process for the decommissioning and dismantlement of the SM-1A, while adhering to the strictest standards of public and worker safety, environmental protection, and fiscal responsibility. The team anticipates the release of a Request for Proposal by this summer. The target award date for this procurement is summer of 2022. 

The team is also working with Defense Logistics Agency, Fort Greely staff, and Doyon Utilities to implement the separation of utilities between the north and south end of Building 606 which houses the SM-1A reactor. This portion of the project must be implemented prior to decommissioning activities to ensure the USACE team can safely execute our project. 

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 YouTube.

We appreciate your continued interest in the SM-1A project.  if you have any questions and/or concerns regarding the SM-1A project, please feel free to reach out to us at CENAB-SM1A@usace.army.mil

SM-1A Draft EA & Draft FNSI

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, has released the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) and draft Finding of No Significant Impact (FNSI) for the proposed action to decommission and dismantle the Deactivated Stationary Medium Power Model 1A Nuclear Power Plant (SM-1A) at U.S. Army Garrison Alaska, Fort Greely, and release the property for unrestricted use. 

The Draft EA and Draft FNSI were available for a 30-day public review and comment period from February 26, 2021 through March 28, 2021.

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, encasing 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.

SM-1 A Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant NoticeThe 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.

SM-1A Walk-Through

Contact Information

To join our stakeholder list and receive email updates, please email us:   CENAB-SM1A@usace.army.mil

Please direct any inquiries regarding contracting opportunities to Mark Cap via email to Mark.Cap@usace.army.mil.

Join Our Stakeholder List






*

Public Meetings

The surrounding community was invited to attend public meetings March 9 and 11 to learn about and comment on the proposed action, draft EA, and draft FNSI.

  • March 9 at the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel and Conference Center; now available on YouTube

  • March 11 at Delta Junction Community Center; now available on YouTube

Both meetings had the same schedule and format consisting of a poster session from 5 to 6:30 p.m.; a formal presentation from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and a second poster session from 8 to 9 p.m. The team followed all COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions in place with respect to the in-person meetings including mask-wearing and social distancing requirements.

Undated image of SM-1A reactor at Fort Greely, Alaska
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District commander Col. John Litz examines the containment vessel door of the SM-1A Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant April 24, 2019 during a site visit. SM-1A will be decommissioned and dismantled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, with its Radiological Center of Expertise, and in partnership with Fort Greely Garrison and Alaska District. Part of this dismantling and decommissioning effort will involve segregating components of the co-located, still operational steam plant from where the decommissioning will take place.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District Electrical Engineer Zachary Sam and Chief of Mechanical Engineering Brent Goering discuss the final decommissioning of the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant during a site visit Wednesday April 24, 2019. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, with its Radiological Center of Expertise, and Alaska District personnel are working together closely in partnership on the SM-1A decommissioning at Fort Greely in Alaska.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District personnel discuss ongoing planning efforts for the final decommissioning of the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant during a site tour Thursday April 25, 2019, that included staffers from the offices of Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Paul Young as well as personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District and Alaska District and Fort Greely. The SM-1A project team is committed to transparently sharing accurate information in a timely manner throughout the course of the project and among all relevant parties, making sure concerns among stakeholders are quickly addressed.
Fort Greely Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Michael Foote introduces SM-1A Project Manager Brenda Barber and Radiological Health Physicist Hans Honerlah from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at an on-post community update meeting Tuesday evening April 23, 2019, where members of the Fort Greely community had an opportunity to learn more about the planning for the decommissioning of the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant. The SM-1A project team is committed to transparently sharing accurate information in a timely manner throughout the course of the project and among all relevant parties, making sure concerns among stakeholders are quickly addressed.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Radiological Health Physicist Hans Honerlah speaks with a member of the Fort Greely community at an on-post community update meeting Tuesday evening April 23, 2019, where Fort Greely stakeholders had an opportunity to learn more about the planning for the decommissioning of the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant. The SM-1A project team is committed to transparently sharing accurate information in a timely manner throughout the course of the project and among all relevant parties, making sure concerns among stakeholders are quickly addressed.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District Commander Col. John Litz and Alaska District Commander Col. Phillip Borders discuss ongoing planning efforts for the final decommissioning of the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant during a briefing ahead of a site tour Thursday April 25, 2019, that included staffers from the offices of Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Paul Young as well as personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District and Alaska District and Fort Greely. The SM-1A project team is committed to transparently sharing accurate information in a timely manner throughout the course of the project and among all relevant parties, making sure concerns among stakeholders are quickly addressed.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District Radiological Health Physicist Hans Honerlah discusses ongoing planning efforts for the final decommissioning of the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant during a site tour Thursday April 25, 2019, that included staffers from the offices of Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Paul Young as well as personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District and Alaska District and Fort Greely. The SM-1A project team is committed to transparently sharing accurate information in a timely manner throughout the course of the project and among all relevant parties, making sure concerns among stakeholders are quickly addressed.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District Electrical Engineer Zachary Sam talks explains work assessing switch boxes Wednesday April 24, 2019 to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District Project Manager Brenda Barber and Baltimore District Commander Col. John Litz at the facility where the final decommissioning of the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant will take place. Part of the effort will involve segregating components of the co-located, still operational steam plant from where the decommissioning will take place. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, with its Radiological Center of Expertise, and Alaska District personnel are working together closely in partnership on the SM-1A decommissioning at Fort Greely in Alaska.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska District Electrical Engineer Zachary Sam and Chief of Mechanical Engineering Brent Goering check out switch boxes Wednesday April 24, 2019 at the facility where the final decommissioning of the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant will take place. Part of the effort will involve segregating components of the co-located, still operational steam plant from where the decommissioning will take place. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, with its Radiological Center of Expertise, and Alaska District personnel are working together closely in partnership on the SM-1A decommissioning at Fort Greely in Alaska.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District commander Col. John Litz takes a look at the SM-1A Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant's former control panel April 24, 2019. SM-1A, located in Fort Greely, Alaska, where the final decommissioning of the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant will take place. Baltimore District, with its Radiological Center of Expertise, Fort Greely Garrison and Alaska District personnel are working together closely in partnership on the SM-1A decommissioning at Fort Greely in Alaska.
A plaque signifying the SAFSTOR of the containment vessel of the SM-1A Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant is featured during a site tour April 24, 2019. Located at Fort Greely, the SM-1A Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant is in the planning stage of being decommissioned and dismantled. Part of this effort will involve segregating components of the co-located, still operational steam plant from where the decommissioning will take place. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, with its Radiological Center of Expertise, and Alaska District personnel are working together closely in partnership on the SM-1A decommissioning at Fort Greely in Alaska.
A time capsule, located outside of the containment vessel of the deactivated generator for the SM-1A Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant, is featured during a site tour April 24, 2019. Located at Fort Greely, the SM-1A Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant is in the planning stage of being decommissioned and dismantled. The SM-1A project team is committed to transparently sharing accurate information in a timely manner throughout the course of the project and among all relevant parties, making sure concerns among stakeholders are quickly addressed.
A piece of the deactivated generator for the SM-1A Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant is featured during a site tour April 25, 2019. Located at Fort Greely, the SM-1A Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant is in the planning stage of being decommissioned and dismantled. The SM-1A project team is committed to transparently sharing accurate information in a timely manner throughout the course of the project and among all relevant parties, making sure concerns among stakeholders are quickly addressed.
The SM-1A Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant's former control panel is featured during a site tour April 24, 2019. SM-1A, located in Fort Greely, Alaska, will be completely decommission and dismantled by the Baltimore District, with its Radiological Center of Expertise, and in partnership with Fort Greely Garrison and Alaska District personnel. The SM-1A project team is committed to transparently sharing accurate information in a timely manner throughout the course of the project and among all relevant parties, making sure concerns among stakeholders are quickly addressed.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District Radiological Health Physicist Hans Honerlah discusses ongoing planning efforts for the final decommissioning of the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant during a site tour Thursday April 25, 2019, that included staffers from the offices of Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Paul Young as well as personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District and Alaska District and Fort Greely. The SM-1A project team is committed to transparently sharing accurate information in a timely manner throughout the course of the project and among all relevant parties, making sure concerns among stakeholders are quickly addressed.
Undated image of SM-1A reactor at Fort Greely, Alaska
SM-1 A Fort Greely, Alaska, "Fuel Vault"