USACE and A3D have recently completed our first major milestones for the Decommissioning and Dismantlement project at SM-1A. On January 22, 2024, our team mobilized to the site to perform the first Vapor Container (VC) entry since 2011, which allowed for additional characterization and investigation of the encasement material used at the site. The pending results from this investigation will impact our approach to future work at the site with respect to health and safety, engineering, and waste operations.
Our team was at SM-1A from January 22 to February 16. A brief summary of our team’s site visit is as follows:
The team mobilized personnel and supplies to the site the week of January 22. While implementing our Industrial Hygiene monitoring, the team opened the outer VC hatch. On January 26, the inner VC hatch was partially opened and ventilated over the weekend to ensure a safe atmosphere for planned investigation activities. On January 29, the inner VC hatch was safely opened. A three-person team performed confined space entry of the VC to perform a safety, structural, and radiation contamination (RadCon) survey of the interior of the VC. Throughout this effort, crew members who entered the VC to perform work wore the appropriate personal protective equipment, to include a Tyvek suit and powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs). Following initial entry, the team prepared to begin torch cutting to enlarge the inner VC hatch opening, which was required to provide a safer access point for investigation inside the VC. Cutting operations to enlarge the inner VC opening took place from January 29 to February 2.
Over the course of the next three weeks, our team entered the VC to collect characterization sampling. The team set up a portable drill and core-drilled several locations in the wall and floor of the inner VC encasement material. Samples were collected for characterization purposes and sent to an offsite laboratory for analysis. Upon completion of sampling, the sample locations were grouted shut. The team performed inspections of the primary shield tank (PST) and attempted to gain access to determine/assess if the PST was fully encased. On February 12, the team successfully drilled through the top four feet of the PST encasement. The entire core removed as part of the drilling was concrete. The core was then placed back into the boring location and the area was secured with a steel plate and caulk. Following the field activities, the inner VC hatch was sealed and caulked, and the outer hatch was sealed, welded shut and padlocked for security purposes. A storyboard highlighting this effort is included with this update, and a YouTube video documenting this effort will be posted to the project website in the near future.
While the team was on site for the VC efforts, a Hazardous Building Material Survey was completed to further refine our inventories of asbestos, lead paint, PCBs, universal waste, etc. Additionally, land surveyors performed civil surveys of the site and the waste storage location.
Overall, the objective of this initial VC entry was to inspect and characterize the VC encasement materials and mitigate future risk. We will be using the data obtained from this effort to modify our approach, preparing us to implement a safe, successful project moving forward.
USACE and A3D will be hosting a series of in person and virtual public meetings to share our path forward with stakeholders and local communities. The first meetings will be held in Fort Greely, Delta Junction, and Fairbanks at the end of March. Virtual meeting information will be posted on our website upon availability.
SM-1A Dismantling and Decommissioning Public Outreach Meeting information:
- March 21, 2024; 6-8 p.m. at Fort Greely, CAC Multipurpose Room B
- March 25, 2024; 6-8 p.m. at Delta Junction Community Center, 2287 Deborah St, Delta Junction, AK 99731
- March 26, 2024; 6-8 p.m. at Clarion Hotel Fairbanks, 95th 10th Ave. Fairbanks, AK 99701
Meetings will include an open-house information poster session from 6-7 p.m., followed by a public meeting and question-and-answer session.
Thank you once again for choosing to be a part of this process as we progress with the decommissioning and dismantling of the deactivated SM-1A. Additional project information is available on our project website www.nab.usace.army.mil/SM-1A/. As a reminder, we also have a dedicated Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant Program YouTube channel Deactivated Nuclear Power Plant Program (DNPPP) - YouTube which includes videos for SM-1A and her sister site, SM-1 in Virginia.
If you have any questions and/or concerns regarding the SM-1A project, please feel free to reach out to me and/or email us at CENAB-SM1A@usace.army.mil.