SM-1A Stakeholder Update: July 2024

Over the past month, our team has increased its presence at the SM-1A site.  Our initial mobilization is complete to the site is complete.  We have set up our office space, prepared a laydown yard in Delta Junction, and collected baseline environmental and radiological surveying and sampling at the SM-1A site and the Waste Storage Area.  Additionally, the team has received shipments containing the weather enclosure components that will be erected at the waste storage area and over the SM-1A site.  Our team would like to express our thanks to the Alaskan Interior Delegation for visiting our site for a tour and information session on 18 June 2024.  This project would not be successful without the continued support of the local community.

Despite our early successes with our January 2024 VC entry and mobilization, we have had some design challenges for the SM-1A site with respect to the construction of the weather enclosure that will shield the worksite from the winter weather, allowing for year around work.  The design concerns are primarily related to ensuring that the weather enclosure could withstand the effects of a potential earthquake, excessive snow, and wind damage.  Since the weather enclosure was proposed to be on conex containers, this further complicated the design parameters.  Unfortunately, these design issues could not be resolved so the team has need to pivot our action plan to ensure safe working conditions for our workers and neighboring tenants.  In order to eliminate our concerns, the team will be now be requesting regulator approval to proceed with the Decommissioning Permit in early fall 2024.  With this approval, our team will remove an old Quonset hut, located adjacent to the SM-1A site and partially dismantle the false wooden façade over the Vapor Containment structure.  This work which will begin by September 2024 will lower the required height of the weather enclosure, allowing us to fully encompass the site and safely continue our decommissioning and dismantlement work.  In order to demonstrate preparedness to implement the Decommissioning Permit, our team is finalizing the required work plans for our regulator – the Army Reactor Office.  We are also implementing the required environmental and radioactive monitoring prior to the work beginning, in early August.  Safety continues to be the number one priority for this team. 

The community will observe some demolition activity this year in the fall and winter.  This demolition work will be closely monitored and implemented with strict controls to ensure the safety of our crew and the tenants adjacent to the site.  With demolition proceeding this year, our team will begin to ship waste from the site, as well.  Our intent is to minimize our impact on traffic by shipping no more than two trucks of construction debris and waste per week. 

Due to the upcoming changes in our schedule, USACE will be hosting additional public meetings at the end of July, into August to keep you informed of our evolving schedule.  Additional information regarding the meetings will be distributed as details are finalized.

We would like to thank you again for your part in this process.  USACE is committed to transparency and project visibility.  Please periodically visit our project website,,  for news and to track our project.

If you have any questions and/or concerns regarding the SM-1A project, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and/or email us at

SM-1A Final Environmental Assessment

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, has released the Final Notice of Availability (NOA), Final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FNSI), and National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) 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. 

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.

Public Outreach Meeting Info

Meetings will include an open-house information poster session from 6-7 p.m., followed by a public meeting and question-and-answer session. 

Contact Information

US Army Corps of Engineers – Baltimore District
PO Box 31030
Fort Greely, AK 99731

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Please direct any inquiries regarding contracting opportunities to Leigha Arnold.

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