SM-1 .jpg

"Overhead view of core structure in Army Package Power Reactor as technicians make final installation. Note 7 X 7 grid, with corners missing, that provide space for fuel elements and control rods.” From the Office of History Research Collection, Military Images, Box 98 folder 5.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $67.98 million contract to APTIM AECOM Decommissioning LLC of Alexandria for the dismantling and disposal of the deactivated nuclear power plant at Fort Belvoir.

The plant was the Army's first nuclear reactor and first facility in America to provide nuclear-generated power for a sustained period to the commercial grid.

"The Army Corps has worked diligently to award the contract for this very complex and challenging project," said Baltimore District Commander Col. John Litz. "Our radiological experts have safely executed projects like this in the past, and our team of trained professionals will use proven techniques, precautions and engineering controls to prioritize and ensure the continued safety of our workers, installation community and public."

From 1957 until it was shut down in 1973, nuclear technicians from all branches of the military trained at the SM-1 facility. SM-1 was partially decommissioned from 1973 into 1974, which consisted of the removal of the majority of the site's radioactivity. This included the removal of nuclear fuel and control rods, minor decontamination, shipment of radioactive waste, sealing of the reactor pressure vessel, and installing appropriate warning signs and monitoring devices.

The majority of SM-1's remaining low-level radioactivity is within activated metals and components of the reactor system, which are all secured within the walls of the facility's containment vessel. During decommissioning, work will be completed within containment, and all material will be properly packaged before leaving the site. The property will be restored for future use by the installation.

Crews are expected to begin mobilizing in early 2021, and the work is anticipated to take approximately five years to complete.

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